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Title: Sixteen years in Siberia - Some experiences of a Russian revolutionist
Author: Deutsch, Leo
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Footnotes have been moved to follow the paragraphs in which they are
referenced.

The position of each full-page illustration has been changed to fall
upon a paragraph break.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.

[Illustration: _Leo. Deutsch._]



                        SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIBERIA

                         SOME EXPERIENCES OF A
                         RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONIST



               FIRST EDITION            _October,  1903_
               Reprinted                _December, 1903_
               Reprinted                _February, 1904_



                        SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIBERIA
                         SOME EXPERIENCES OF A
                         RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONIST

                             BY LEO DEUTSCH

                      TRANSLATED BY HELEN CHISHOLM


                           WITH ILLUSTRATIONS



                            THIRD IMPRESSION



                                NEW YORK
                           E. P. DUTTON & CO.
                                  1904



                       _Printed in Great Britain_



                          TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE


The author of the following narrative is a leader in the Russian
revolutionary movement. The German transliteration of his name is given
here as being the form he himself uses in Western Europe; but he is
called “Deuc” in the English version of Stepniak’s _Underground Russia_,
which was translated from the Italian, retaining the Italian
transliteration of names. A more exact rendering of the Russian would be
Deitch, the “ei” pronounced somewhat as in the English word “rein.”

George Kennan’s valuable work, _Siberia and the Exile System_, the fruit
of investigations carried on under circumstances of much difficulty and
even danger, has made its many English and American readers acquainted
with the true conditions of life among Russian political prisoners and
exiles. The story given in the present volume of the painful and tragic
events that took place in the political prisons at Kara after Mr. Kennan
had left the Russian Empire was written to him by, among others, a
friend resident in Kara at the time, whose letter he published in his
book. In it are also to be found additional particulars concerning the
earlier or later history of many persons whose names occur in the
following pages; and it thus throws an interesting light on Mr.
Deutsch’s story, which is told so quietly, with such an absence of
sensationalism, that it is sometimes necessary to read between the lines
in order to grasp fully the terrible realities of the situation.

It may, perhaps, be useful to readers unfamiliar with the history of the
Russian revolutionary movement if I give here a rough sketch of its
development, and of its position at the present time.

From the first consolidation of the Empire under the Tsars in the latter
half of the sixteenth century, Russian despotism has consistently
regarded with apprehension and disfavour all manifestation of
independent thought among its subjects. There has never been a time when
those bold enough to indulge in it, even in what English people would
consider a very mild form, were not liable to persecution, and this
traditional attitude of repression and coercion had the inevitable
result. Even early in the eighteenth century secret societies had come
into being, but these were mostly of the various religious sects or of
the Freemasons. When they began to assume a political character they
were at first confined entirely to the upper classes, and took the form
of revolts organised among the military, the last and most important
being that of the Decabrists (or Decembrists), who attempted to
overthrow the monarchy on the occasion of Nicholas I.’s accession in
1825.

Liberal views were to a certain extent fostered by Alexander I.
(1801-1825), who at one time openly talked of granting a Constitution.
Russians who visited Western Europe, officers in the Napoleonic
campaigns, and others, had “brought France into Russia,” had made the
French language fashionable, and thus had opened a way for the
importation of new philosophical, scientific, and political literature,
eagerly appreciated by the developing acuteness of the Russian mind.
Literary influence, even the purely romantic, has throughout ranged
itself on the side of liberty, Pushkin heading the poets and Gogol the
novelists. Indeed, one may safely say that up to the present day nearly
every Russian author of any note has been implicated—some to a greater,
some to a less degree--in the revolutionary movement, and has suffered
for the cause.

Alexander I. in his later years, and his successor Nicholas I., fell
back on a reactionary policy. Even Freemasonry was prohibited, mere
literary societies of the early forties were considered seditious, and
their members were punished with imprisonment and death. There now
sprang up political secret societies, whose dream was of a federal
republic, or at least of a constitutional monarchy.

The accession of Alexander II. in 1855 strengthened the hopes of the
reformers. The study of political and social questions became the
fashion; while professors, students, and the “intellectuals” of the
upper and middle classes warmly engaged in the “underground” movement.
With this period are associated such names as those of Herzen, Bakounin,
and Tchernishevsky, whose writings were the inspiration of the party,
and even influenced for a time the Tsar himself. But the emancipation of
the serfs, on February 19th, 1861, bitterly disappointed those who had
hoped great things of the new monarch, and who saw from the way in which
this and other liberal measures were emasculated by officials, to whom
the drafting of them was entrusted by the Tsar, how futile it was to
expect any effective reform as a grace from an autocrat. The reform
movement, now definitely socialistic, speedily took on a revolutionary
character, and culminated in the active sympathy and support given to
the Polish revolt of 1863.

Alexander II. resorted to the old coercive methods; all attempts to
voice the aspirations and needs of the people, or even the academic
discussion of political questions, were met with the savage punishments
of martial law, imprisonment, exile, death. In face of a new enactment,
which had professed to give fair trial to all accused persons, special
courts were set up to try political offenders; and the practice of
banishment by “administrative methods” (_i.e._ without any trial at all)
was instituted.

A time of enforced quiet followed, when the leaders of the movement were
either dead, imprisoned, or had fled into voluntary exile abroad; but it
served as a time of self-education and study for the younger generation,
at home or in foreign Universities, and in the early seventies the
revival came. Our author here takes up the story with his account of the
Propagandist movement, which was peaceful, except in so far as it aimed
at stirring up the peasants to demand reform; for, in the absence of any
constitutional methods for expressing their desires, this could only be
effected by organised uprisings. He describes how this movement
developed into terrorism under the system of “white terror” exercised by
the Government, and how, after the assassination of Alexander II., the
strong hand of despotism succeeded in checking, until a few years ago,
the passionate struggle for liberty.

A new monarch and a new century have altered little the essential
features of the situation, so far as relations between government and
governed are concerned. Every day we have examples of the time-honoured
policy, in the dragooning of Russia proper; the attempted Russification
of Finland; and the deliberate fostering by the Government of
anti-Semitism, with the covert design of counteracting the revolutionary
activity of Jewish Socialists, discrediting their labour movement in the
eyes of the Russian proletariat, and also distracting the latter from
organisation on their own account.

But a significant change is at work to-day among the people. The
peasants and working-classes in town and country, formerly the despair
of those who strove to arouse in them political consciousness, are being
awakened by the inevitable development of industry to a sense of their
duties and their rights. A genuine labour movement has arisen, which, in
face of the intolerance of the authorities, has naturally taken on a
political character, and affiliated itself to the successors of the
older revolutionary societies.

The words “anarchist” and “nihilist,” so commonly associated with the
Russian revolutionists, are complete misnomers to-day (as, indeed, they
always have been, except in the case of a few isolated individuals). The
movement is now carried on chiefly by two organisations: the
“Revolutionary Socialists,” and the party to which our author belongs,
and helped to found, the “Social Democratic” Labour Party; associated
with the latter being the powerfully organised social-democratic
“General Jewish Labour Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia,” usually
known as the “Bund.” Of these the Revolutionary Socialists alone still
adhere to the practice of terrorism in a modified form, and even they
have always proclaimed their intention of abandoning it directly
“constitutional” methods are allowed to them. The aim of the
revolutionists is to replace the present autocratic government by a
social republic, under which the various races now grouped within the
empire shall each have scope to develop its national individuality.
Groups are actively at work in widely distant localities, even Siberia
furnishing her contingent, while Poland and Finland have various
revolutionary organisations of their own.

The Government’s policy at present is to exile to Siberia without trial,
or intern in some place distant from home, all persons known or even
suspected to be interesting themselves in the movement. This is effected
principally through the instrumentality of the gendarmerie, which was
instituted by Nicholas I. as a sort of spy system, primarily intended to
unearth official abuses and report upon them directly to the Tsar. It
soon, however, became imbued with the prevailing spirit of the
bureaucracy; its members shut their eyes to the official corruption
everywhere prevalent, and they have since confined their attention to
unearthing “political” delinquencies. The force has at least one
representative in every town of any size, and it has a vaguely defined
roving commission to watch and arrest all persons who appear to be
suspicious characters; these may be kept in imprisonment for an
indefinite time, or may be exiled “by administrative methods.” It has
become an adjunct to the ordinary police, although quite independent of
them, and is generally employed in all matters of secrecy.[1] Travellers
from Western Europe who observe too closely the life and conditions of
the country are liable to arrest in this way. Sir Donald Mackenzie
Wallace and Mr. Kennan, among others, had this experience.

Footnote 1:

  See _Russia_, by D. M. Wallace.

The mere existence of such a force may help to explain the discomfort of
even the ordinary peaceful Russian citizen under the present system of
government; and he is further incommoded by the presence in every house
of a police-spy. For the _dvornik_ or _concierge_, though paid by the
inmates of the house, is appointed subject to the approval of the
police, and is responsible to them. He keeps the keys, and is bound to
deliver them up to the police whenever they may take it into their heads
to require a domiciliary search. As an instance of the petty tyranny
that occurs I may mention that the possession of a hectograph (or any
such appliance for multiplying MSS.) needs a special permission from the
police.

The police have power to break up any gathering in a private house where
more than seven guests are assembled; this is frequently done, even on
such ordinary occasions as a wedding or funeral, if many students or
such-like “untrustworthy” people are of the party. When a town or
district is under martial law—an everyday state of things in Russia—the
above number is still further reduced; indeed, it is quite common for
the police to prohibit _all_ gatherings.

Readings at entertainments for the poor got up by philanthropic people
may only be given from books licensed by the police for the purpose (and
mostly very dull); the catalogues of lending libraries may contain only
such books as are definitely permitted, many being excluded that are not
forbidden to private persons—though the latter, again, are by no means
free to choose their reading, many authors being entirely prohibited
within the empire; and whole columns of newspapers, including foreign
ones that have come through the post, are blacked out by order of the
censor. Private debating societies’ meetings or lectures, however
innocent, are practically impossible to all who are not in the best
odour with the authorities, except under the strictest precautions
against discovery—such as closing of shutters, disguise of preparations,
and a warning to guests not to arrive simultaneously.

It is evident what opportunity all this gives to officials “on the make”
for demonstrating their zeal, and it accounts for the fact that every
year hundreds of persons not accused of any definite offence are removed
from their homes. Nearly everyone has friends and relations so banished,
and the result of such systematic interference with private liberty is
that almost everyone in Russia, outside official circles, is more or
less in league against the bureaucratic government. The countenance, and
even financial support, afforded to the revolutionists, not only by
sympathisers in free countries, but by the general public at home, is
one great source of their strength. They are willingly assisted in
evading arrest and in escaping from prison or from exile; and prohibited
literature (printed abroad, or secretly in Russia itself) is circulated
and sold throughout the country in immense quantities—not only leaflets
by the thousand, but reviews, some elaborately illustrated, and even
books of a more solid character. The Russian original of the present
work will presumably soon be on the “illegal” market.

The illustrations are reproductions of photographs taken from life.

                                                               H. C.

LONDON, _July, 1903_.

                                CONTENTS


 TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE                                            _Pages_
                                                                   v-xii


                                CHAPTER I
 Journey to Germany—Imprisonment in Freiburg—Episodes from          1-11
   the past of the Revolutionary movement

                               CHAPTER II
 The cause of my arrest—Professor Thun—My defence—Plans of         12-20
   escape—My legal adviser

                               CHAPTER III
 Uncertainty—Prison life—The Public Prosecutor—A change of         21-29
   cells

                               CHAPTER IV
 The visit of “my wife”—More plans of escape—The Public            30-41
   Prosecutor shows his hand—reparations for a journey

                                CHAPTER V
 The journey to Russia—In the cattle-truck—The Frankfort           42-48
   and Berlin prisons—The frontier-station—Through Warsaw
   to Petersburg

                               CHAPTER VI
 The Fortress of Peter and Paul—The Public Prosecutor as           49-57
   compatriot—A hard-hearted doctor—A fleeting acquaintance

                               CHAPTER VII
 Changed conditions—A frustrated plan—The minister’s               58-66
   visit—A secret of State—My literary neighbour

                              CHAPTER VIII
 Fresh fears—The Colonel of Gendarmerie—Inquiry into the           67-72
   case of General Mezentzev’s murder—Meeting with
   Bogdanovitch—Departure

                               CHAPTER IX
 A ray of hope—An unheard-of régime—The hunger-strike—Our          73-82
   club—A secret ally

                                CHAPTER X
 A brave officer—My military service—The trial—Further             83-93
   examinations

                               CHAPTER XI
 The visit of the minister—I am turned into a convict—The         94-104
   prison at Kiëv

                               CHAPTER XII
 New acquaintances—The girl-conspirators of Romny—Arrival        105-114
   in Moscow—Companions in destiny—A liberal-minded
   governor

                              CHAPTER XIII
 The trial of the fourteen—Recollections of Vera                 115-122
   Figner—Numerous imprisonments—_Agents Provocateurs_

                               CHAPTER XIV
 A not incorruptible inspector—Broken fetters—Resistance to      123-129
   the shaving process—Visitors in the prison

                               CHAPTER XV
 Political condition of Russia and the revolutionary             130-137
   party—Our little society—Fête days—Prohibited visits—A
   lecture on manners

                               CHAPTER XVI
 Preparations for our travels—The boat journey by the Volga      138-147
   and the Kama—Ekaterinburg—On the troika—“To Europe, to
   Asia”

                              CHAPTER XVII
 In Tiumen—Parting—On the Siberian rivers—A startling            148-157
   proposal

                              CHAPTER XVIII
 By way of the convoy-stations—A clumsy officer—The              158-168
   vagabond—A man-hunt

                               CHAPTER XIX
 The forest—Unsuccessful attempts at escape—The people we        169-183
   met—The criminal world—The convoy officers

                               CHAPTER XX
 From Krasnoyarsk to Irkutsk—Misunderstandings and               184-193
   disputes—The women in Irkutsk prison

                               CHAPTER XXI
 The chief of police at Irkutsk—Meeting with exiled              194-208
   comrades—From Irkutsk to Kara—Stolen fetters—A dubious
   kind of Decabrist—Another contest—Arrival at our
   journey’s end

                              CHAPTER XXII
 First days at Kara—Friends old and new                          209-220

                              CHAPTER XXIII
 The organisation of our common life—The “Siriuses”—Wagers       221-232

                              CHAPTER XXIV
 Some details of the prison’s history—The “Tom-cat”—The          233-247
   “Sanhedrin’s room“—My first Siberian spring

                               CHAPTER XXV
 Humours and pastimes of prison life—Two new                     248-265
   commandants—The “Hospital”—The participators in armed
   resistance

                              CHAPTER XXVI
 The women’s prison                                              266-274

                              CHAPTER XXVII
 The “colonists”—Further events in the women’s prison—The        275-282
   hunger-strikes—The Yakutsk massacre

                             CHAPTER XXVIII
 Our celebration of the centenary of the French                  283-290
   Revolution—Sergius Bobohov—The end of the tragedy

                              CHAPTER XXIX
 Disquieting reports—Visit of the Governor-General—Release       291-299
   from prison

                               CHAPTER XXX
 Nizhnaya-Kara—New life—Stolen gold                              300-306

                              CHAPTER XXXI
 The tour of the Heir-Apparent through Siberia—Our life in       307-315
   the penal settlement—An incensed official

                              CHAPTER XXXII
 The death of the Tsar—New manifestoes—The census                316-322

                             CHAPTER XXXIII
 A prehistoric monument—My departure from Kara—Life in           323-346
   Stretyensk—My transference to Blagovèstshensk—The
   massacres of July, 1900

                              CHAPTER XXXIV
 My flight from Siberia—The end of my journey round the          347-359
   world—My friend Axelrod again—Conclusion

 INDEX                                                               361



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

 LEO DEUTSCH, IN PRISON DRESS                        _Frontispiece_

 FORTRESS OF PETER AND PAUL, ST. PETERSBURG       _To face page_     48

 PRISONERS MARCHING THROUGH THE STREETS OF ODESSA        “           96

 “BUTIRKI,” THE CENTRAL PRISON AT MOSCOW                 “          110

 PORTRAITS: TCHUIKOV, SPANDONI, VERA FIGNER,             “          112
 STEFANOVITCH, MIRSKY

 SIBERIAN HALTING-STATION (ÉTAPE)                        “          146

 IN A SIBERIAN PRISON                                    “          158

 ROLL-CALL OF PRISONERS AT A HALTING-STATION             “          160

 ESCAPED CONVICT-TRAMP (BRODYAGA)                        “          164

 AN ATTEMPT AT ESCAPE                                    “          170

 PORTRAITS: MARTINOVSKY, STARINKYEVITCH,                 “          208
 SUNDELEVITCH, ZLATOPOLSKY, PRYBYLYEV, YEMELYANOV

 PRISONERS GOLD-WASHING AT KARA                          “          232

 YARD OF KARA PRISON FOR “POLITICALS”                    “          254

 DULEMBA, KOHN, RECHNYEVSKY, LURI, MANKOVSKY             “          258

 LURI, SOUHOMLIN, AND RECHNYEVSKY, IN PRISON             “          260
 DRESS

 PORTRAITS: A. KORBA, E. KOVALSKAYA, N. SIGIDA,          “          266
 M. KOVALEVSKAYA, N. SMIRNITSKAYA, S. BOGOMOLETZ

 GRAVEYARD OF POLITICAL PRISONERS AT KARA                “          290

 THE PENAL SETTLEMENT, KARA                              “          300

 COTTAGE SHARED BY “POLITICALS” IN THE KARA PENAL        “          302
 SETTLEMENT

 KARA PRISONERS AT WORK                                  “          308

 FEMALE CRIMINALS AT KARA DRAWING WATER-CART             “          310

 AGED ORDINARY PRISONERS AT KARA                         “          314

 THE COSSACK VILLAGE OF STRETYENSK                       “          324

 BLAGOVESTSHENSK                                         “          328

 ON THE AMUR NEAR BLAGOVESTSHENSK—THE SCENE OF           “          336
 THE MASSACRE



                        SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIBERIA



                               CHAPTER I
 JOURNEY TO GERMANY—IMPRISONMENT IN FREIBURG—EPISODES FROM THE PAST OF
                       THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT


In the beginning of March, 1884, I travelled from Zurich, through Basel,
to Freiburg in Baden. The object of my journey was to smuggle over the
frontier a quantity of Russian socialistic literature, printed in
Switzerland, in order that it might then be distributed by secret
channels throughout Russia, where of course it was prohibited. In
Germany a special law against the Social-Democratic movement was then in
force. The _Sozialdemokrat_ was published in Zurich, and had to be
smuggled over the German frontier, where the watch was very keen,
rendering most difficult the despatch to Russia of Russian, Polish, and
other revolutionary literature printed in Switzerland. Before the
enactment of the special law in August, 1878, the procedure had been
simple. At that time the publications were sent by post to some town in
Germany near the Russian border, and thence, by one way or another,
despatched to Russia. Later, however, it became necessary to convey them
as travellers’ luggage across the German frontier, in order to get them
through the custom-house, after which they could be forwarded to some
German town nearer the Russian border. It was on this transport business
that I was engaged.

My luggage consisted of two large boxes, half-filled with literature,
and their upper parts packed with linen and other wearing apparel, that
the Customs officers might not be suspicious. In one trunk I had men’s
clothes, in the other women’s, supposed to belong to my (non-existent)
wife; and for this reason there really was a lady present at the Customs
examination in Basel,—the wife of my friend Axelrod from Zurich. She
offered to take further charge of the transport, thinking she would run
less risk than I if the police became suspicious. As, however, the
examination of the luggage went off quite smoothly, I declined the
offer, hardly thinking any further trouble probable.

Besides Frau Axelrod a Basel Socialist was with me at the station. He
had advised me how to carry out my perilous mission, for he was
experienced in such business, having managed many transports of
forbidden literature. Only a few days before, accompanied by a Polish
acquaintance of mine, Yablonski, he had been to Freiburg, whence they
had despatched some Polish literature. He now recommended to me a cheap
hotel in Freiburg, close to the station; and in good spirits I climbed
into a third-class carriage. It was a Sunday, and the carriage was
filled with people in gay holiday mood. Songs were sung, and
unrestrained chatter filled the air. The guard was pompous and
overbearing, as often happened then on German lines; I do not know if it
is so still. When he saw that I was smoking, he told me very rudely,
with a great show of official zeal, that this was not a smoking
carriage. I answered politely that I had not been aware of it, and at
once threw away my cigarette. He insisted peremptorily, however, that I
must change carriages. “A bad omen,” thought I, and still recall the
sensation. I was out of temper, and felt irritated and uncomfortable.
The weather, too, grew overcast, and a cold drizzle set in, which worked
on my nerves.

The train moved off, and before I had got over my grumbling humour we
were at Freiburg. It was between seven and eight in the evening. Landed
on the platform, I looked out the porter of the Freiburger Hof, and gave
him my luggage-check. He noticed at once that it showed the unusual
weight of my boxes, and expressed his surprise thereat. To quiet any
suspicion I told him at once unconcernedly that I was a student, and
intended to study at Freiburg University, and that it was my books which
made the trunks so heavy. The hotel was soon reached, and a room
engaged, after which I betook myself to the restaurant for supper. As I
passed by the buffet I saw the porter whispering earnestly with another
man, apparently the landlord. Directly I had finished my meal the waiter
brought me the visitors’ book; and as I had a Russian passport, lent me
by a friend at the time of my flight from Russia, I at once signed
myself in my friend’s name, “Alexander Bulìgin, of Moscow.” I then
ordered writing materials and went to my room, but had barely shut the
door behind me when there came a knock. At my “Come in!” there appeared,
instead of a servant with writing things, as I had expected, a
policeman, accompanied by a gentleman in civil dress. “I am an officer
of the secret police,” said the latter; “allow me to examine your
trunks.” Instantly I thought, “As Freiburg is so near the Swiss
frontier, the police (to whom the porter must have announced the arrival
of a young man with unusually heavy luggage), may think I have
contraband goods; or they may take me for an anarchist, and suspect me
of conveying dynamite.” I tried, therefore, to look as harmless as
possible, although I felt that things were awkward. Busied with the
unlocking of my boxes, I let fall the remark that one of them contained
the belongings of my wife, whom I expected shortly. No sooner, however,
had the men begun to turn over my things, than I saw that my guess as to
their search for contraband was incorrect; the detective was on the
look-out for neither contraband nor dynamite, but for books, and he
immediately began to examine mine. I then concluded he was looking for
German Social-Democratic literature; and I was astonished when, at sight
of a little book bound in red, my gentleman cried triumphantly, “Ah,
here we are!”

It was the _Calendar of the Naròdnaia Vòlya_,[2] a book that had come
out about a year before this, and was openly sold by German booksellers.

Footnote 2:

  _Naròdnaia Vòlya_: literally, “the People’s Will,” the name of the
  chief revolutionary party in Russia at the time with which the
  narrative is now dealing, and also of its secretly printed
  newspaper.—_Trans._

“I must now have you searched,” said the police agent.

Besides a notebook, a letter, and a pocket-book containing several
hundred-mark notes, there were in my pockets a dozen numbers of the
Zurich _Sozialdemokrat_, which I had brought with me to send to a
Russian friend in Germany.

“Here at least is something that we can read!” said the detective in a
satisfied tone; “now, I arrest you!”

“Why? What for?” asked I, much astonished.

“That you will soon find out; come along!” was the answer.

The procedure of the police agent was extraordinary in every way: no
attempt was made to fulfil the legal enactments for the protection of
personal safety; the domiciliary search was instituted without legal
warrant; there were no witnesses. I insisted on the officer’s counting
over in my presence the money in my pocket-book, which they had
confiscated, though of course that was not much guarantee for the
security of my property.

As I was descending the steps of the hotel, a prisoner between my two
guardian angels, a young lady carrying a small travelling-bag met us.
The detective asked me if this were my wife, and, notwithstanding my
reply in the negative, tried to seize hold of her. She evidently thought
she had to do with some Don Juan, and fled screaming into the street;
whereupon the detective ordered the policeman to lead me on, and himself
followed the unknown lady.

The policeman now tried to take me by the arm, and so conduct me through
the streets, but I hotly resisted such treatment, declaring that I had
committed no crime, and that he had no possible justification for
putting me in such a position.

We arrived at last at the House of Detention. Here I was searched again,
and for the first time since my arrest was questioned by an official as
to my personal identity.

My detective soon appeared, bringing the lady, who, weeping bitterly,
protested her absolute innocence, and indignantly demanded the
explanation of such an insult. Coming on the top of all my own
experiences since my arrival in Freiburg this scene put me into a state
of fury.

“What is all this?” cried I to the police officer. “How can you take
upon yourself to insult this lady? I repeat again that I do not know
her; she is not my wife, and I have never set eyes on her in my life
before.”

“Well, we shall see about that. It is my business. It is no affair of
yours whom we arrest,” declared he; and I thought to myself, “This is a
nice state of things! We might as well be in Russia.”

I was then told to follow a warder, who took me up to the first floor.
The lock of a cell-door turned, grating, and I found myself installed in
the Grand-Ducal prison of Baden.

When the warder had withdrawn with his lantern absolute silence reigned,
and the chamber was perfectly dark. Lights were not allowed here either
in the cells or passages. I took my bearings as well as I could, groping
along the walls, and, having found a bed, I lay down fully dressed as I
was. My mind was in a state of chaos; I could follow no clear train of
thought, nor form any conclusions about what had occurred. The sense of
fate weighed me down; my strength seemed broken. Sinister dreams left me
no peace all night, and consequently I awoke from slumber in a dazed
condition, not knowing where I was or what had happened to me. When at
last with an effort I realised my position, despair seized on me.
Extradition to Russia stared me in the face; I could not banish the fear
of it. True, at that time there was no extradition treaty between
Germany and Russia which applied to political refugees.[3] But I had
special reasons for fearing that I might be treated exceptionally; and
that the significance of my position may be clear to the reader, I must
now give some details of my earlier career.

Footnote 3:

  This treaty was only concluded in the autumn of 1885.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In 1874, just ten years before the events described above, as a youth of
nineteen I had joined the “Propagandist movement,”[4] which at that time
engrossed a great number of young students throughout Russia. Like most
of the young Propagandists, I was led to this chiefly by sympathy with
the sufferings and endurance of the people. According to our views, it
was the sacred duty of every reasonable and upright human being who
really loved his country to devote all his powers to the object of
freeing the people from the economic oppression, the slavery, the
barbarism, to which they were subjected. The young generation, always
most prone to pity the misfortunes of others, could not remain
indifferent to the miserable situation of the newly enfranchised serfs.
An entire social revolution in Russia appeared to the Propagandists the
sole means of altering the existing wretched material conditions, and of
removing the heavy burden on the people; following, therefore, the
teaching of the Socialists of Western Europe, they set before themselves
as their ultimate object the abolition of private property and the
collective ownership of the means of production. The Propagandists felt
entirely convinced that the people would instantly embrace their ideas
and aims and join them at the first appeal. This belief was an
inspiration to them, and spurred them to unlimited self-sacrifice for
the idea that possessed them. These youths and girls renounced without
hesitation their previous social position and the assured future that
the existing order of things offered them; without further ado they left
the educational institutions where they were studying, recklessly broke
all family ties, and threw their personal fate into the balance, in
order to live entirely for the idea, to sacrifice themselves without
stint for the idea, to make every faculty and possibility serve in the
sacred cause of the people’s deliverance. Any personal sacrifice seemed
to these young enthusiasts scarcely worth speaking of when the great
cause was in question. The common ideal, the common aim, and the
enthusiasm of each individual drew the Propagandists together into one
great family, linked by all the ties of affection and mutual dependence.
Fraternal relations of the most affectionate intimacy grew up among all
these young people; a complete altruism governed their actions, and each
was prepared for any sacrifice on behalf of another. Only in great
historical moments, in the time of the early Christian martyrdoms, and
the founding of religious sects, have proselytes manifested such
personal devotion, such exalted feeling.[5]

Footnote 4:

  Organised by the revolutionists for teaching the principles of
  Socialism, and awakening the desire for liberty; for which purpose was
  instituted the policy of “going among the people,” _i.e._ living among
  the peasants like one of themselves,—_Trans._

Footnote 5:

  The reader who is interested in this period of the Russian revolution
  will find much information in the work of Professor Thun, _Geschichte
  der revolutionären Bewegung in Russland_, and in Stepniak’s
  _Underground Russia_.

In this elect band, however, there were found (as has happened in every
such movement) individuals not capable of this unselfish fervour; there
were among them some paltry spirits, and even some who proved traitors.
Certainly the number of these latter was infinitesimally small; but the
history of revolutionary movements shows sufficiently that hundreds of
the most able secret or public agents of a government can never do a
tithe of the harm to a secret society that can be effected by a single
traitor in its own ranks. In this manner did treachery become pregnant
with evil results for the Propagandists, and it gave to the movement a
character it might otherwise never have developed. Early in the year
1874 the young revolutionists, men and women, went out “among the
people,” according to the plan they had formed; they distributed
themselves among the villages, where they lived and dressed like
peasants, carrying on an active Socialist propaganda. But scarcely had
they begun operations when treachery made itself apparent; two or three
of the initiated denounced the organisation, and delivered over hundreds
of their comrades to the authorities. Searches and arrests took place
without number; the police pounced on “guilty” and innocent alike, and
all the prisons in Russia were soon filled to overflowing. In this one
year more than a thousand persons were seized. Many of them suffered
long years of imprisonment under the most horrible conditions, some
committed suicide, others lost their reason, and in many cases long
terms of incarceration resulted in illness and premature death. Under
these circumstances the reader can conceive the bitter hatred kindled in
the ranks of the Socialists against the traitors who had sacrificed so
many lives. The knowledge of the victims’ terrible sufferings would
naturally incite their friends to avenge them; inevitably, too, the
thought would arise of punishing treachery, in order to put a stop by
intimidation to the trade of the informer. But the Propagandists were in
the highest degree men of peace, and it was not easy for them to harbour
thoughts of violence. When such ideas were first mooted, they long
remained only subjects of discussion.

Not till the summer of 1876 did the first attempt to put the terrorist
theory into practice take place. The circumstances were as follows. The
members of a revolutionary group well known at the time—the _Kiëv
Buntari_[6]—had assembled at Elisavetgrad. I belonged to this
organisation. Many of the members were “illegals,”[7] and for some time
past the gendarmerie had been making captures among them, acting on the
information of a traitor named Gorinòvitch. This Gorinòvitch had been
imprisoned in 1874, and being in the greatest danger had saved himself
by telling everything he knew about the Russian Socialists. His
revelations had injured many; yet, as in numerous other cases, not a
hair of this renegade’s head would have been touched, if he had kept
clear of revolutionary circles. But about two years after his release
from prison he tried again to insinuate himself among us, and he managed
to get into the confidence of some inexperienced young people, who of
course had no notion of the part he had formerly played. From them he
learned that the Kiëv Society had assembled at Elisavetgrad; he came
there at once, and sought to find out what the persons he had before
betrayed were doing. We recognised him, however, and it soon became
evident to us that he was playing the spy, and preparing some fresh
treachery. So I and one other comrade resolved to put an end to his
life.

Footnote 6:

  _Bunt_ means both “uprising” and “revolt”; the name of the society
  might be translated “Agitators of Kiëv.” Its object was to stir up and
  organise risings among the peasantry.—_Trans._

Footnote 7:

  In the language of the Russian revolutionaries those are called
  “illegals” who have for any reason already become suspected by the
  authorities, and who therefore must conceal their identity under
  fictitious names.

Our determination could not be carried into effect in Elisavetgrad
itself, or it might have resulted in giving the police a clue for the
discovery of our organisation. We therefore asked Gorinòvitch if he
would go with us to Odessa to find the persons he was in search of, and
he agreed. There in a lonely spot we attempted to execute our mission,
and left Gorinòvitch lying, as we thought, dead, with a paper fastened
on his breast bearing the inscription, “So perish all traitors!” But he
was only severely injured, was found by the police, and survived to give
information concerning his attempted assassination. Searches and arrests
followed in due course, and although at the time I succeeded in avoiding
capture, in the autumn of the following year I was arrested, together
with other comrades, on account of the famous Tchigirìn case.[8]

Footnote 8:

  At the time of the emancipation of the serfs the peasants in the
  Tchigirìn district of the province of Kiëv did not wish to divide into
  private property the land allotted to them, but to hold it in common,
  as was done in the north of Russia. In 1875 the Government took the
  harshest measures against them: arrests, executions, and persecutions
  of every kind; but the peasants held firm. The revolutionists, among
  others Stefanòvitch, Bohanòvsky, and myself, resolved accordingly to
  organise a rising among the Tchigirìn peasantry. Our plans failed, we
  ourselves were arrested, and the Tchigirìn trial instituted. See also
  Thun’s _Geschichte der revolutionären Bewegung in Russland_, and
  Stepniak’s _Underground Russia_.

I was imprisoned in Kiëv, but in the beginning of 1878 I escaped[9] in
company with Stefanòvitch and Bohanòvsky.

Footnote 9:

  See note, p. 98.

Those who were concerned in the attempt against Gorinòvitch were
prosecuted for the first time in November, 1879, at a period when both
the “red” and the “white” terrorism[10] had blazed up. After a series of
attempts against different representatives of the Government, the
revolutionists had concentrated their entire strength on the endeavour
to assassinate Alexander II. The Government combated the terrorist
movement by means of special enactments, martial law, and death
penalties, to which large numbers of people were sentenced who were
perfectly innocent of complicity in the above deeds. On November 19th,
some days before the beginning of the Gorinòvitch case (and after the
accused had been acquainted with the facts alleged against them, for
which they were only liable to comparatively light sentences), the
Terrorists blew up a train on the Moscow line, believing the Tsar to be
in it. In consequence of this the Government determined to revenge
themselves upon the accused in the Gorinòvitch case. Of these only one
had been directly implicated, and as all had been imprisoned two or
three years already before the beginning of the terrorist agitation,
they could under no circumstances be supposed answerable for that
agitation. In spite of this it was decided to “make an example” by
inflicting a heavy sentence. Three of the accused,—Drebyasghin, Malinka,
and Maidansky—were condemned to death by hanging, and were executed on
December 3rd; two—Kostyurin and Yankovski—were sentenced to penal
servitude; and the traitors Krayev and Kuritzin were set free. If I had
been in the power of these judges my fate would have been sealed.
However, early in the year 1880 I effected my escape from Russia, and I
had been living in Switzerland up to the time of my going to Freiburg as
previously described. From all this it will be clear with what feelings
I contemplated the possibility of extradition to Russia.

Footnote 10:

  “White” terrorism was that practised by the Government for the
  intimidation of the revolutionists—wholesale arrests, banishment,
  imprisonment, death penalties, etc. “Red” terrorism was the answer of
  the revolutionists,—war waged against the Government and its
  representatives with pistol, knife, and bomb, also with the object of
  intimidation.—_Trans._



                               CHAPTER II
  THE CAUSE OF MY ARREST—PROFESSOR THUN—MY DEFENCE—PLANS OF ESCAPE—MY
                             LEGAL ADVISER


In Germany, as a constitutional state, the law requires that no one
shall be imprisoned for more than four-and-twenty hours without a
magistrate’s order. As a foreigner, however, this was not held to apply
to me; and it was only after two days that I was brought before a
magistrate.

After he had asked me the usual questions as to name, position, and
antecedents, he informed me that being a foreigner whose identity could
not be immediately established, I must remain in prison. He added that,
of course, I could appeal against this decision, but that I should find
it useless to do so. And, in fact, the appeal that I did make was
rejected.

So after this examination I was as wise as ever regarding the cause of
my arrest. Again, I began turning over and over my various conjectures.
Uncertainty is always an unpleasant condition, and most prisoners have
to endure it; but in my case uncertainty racked me with the most
dreadful apprehensions. After three days that seemed endless, I was
again taken before the magistrate. When the ordinary questions had been
answered he asked me if I knew the reason of my arrest. On my reply in
the negative he gave me the following explanation:—

Some days before my arrival from Basel two men had come from the same
place, (my acquaintance, the Swiss Socialist, and the Pole Yablonski).
They also had put up at the Freiburger Hof; they also had brought boxes
filled with books. They had despatched those books to a man in Breslau,
who had just been imprisoned under the law against Socialists; and in
connection with his arrest the police had confiscated the parcel, in
which were discovered Polish socialistic pamphlets prohibited in
Germany. The senders having given the address of the Freiburger Hof, the
pamphlets had been sent back to Freiburg, as a preliminary to the search
for the persons who had despatched them. Orders were given at the hotel
to inform the police if they or any other suspicious characters should
arrive from Switzerland. Thus it was that the hotel porter, learning
that I had books in my trunk, had, after consultation with the landlord,
given information which led to the appearance of the police. The
detective had found among my books the duplicate of one in the Breslau
parcel—the _Calendar of the Naròdnaia Vòlya_; and when he also
discovered copies of the _Sozialdemokrat_, things were suspicious enough
to warrant my arrest. The charge against me, therefore, was that in
conjunction with other persons I was guilty of distributing prohibited
Polish literature in Germany.

On hearing this, it was easy for me to reply to the charge that there
was nothing in Polish among my books, nor any single book which had been
prohibited in Germany; and as to the copies of the _Sozialdemokrat_,
their possession was no offence. The question resolved itself simply
into this: Whether I was in conspiracy with certain persons, and whether
I had not in any case been circulating forbidden literature. Chance
alone had led to my capture.

“If you had not gone to the Freiburger Hof nobody would have thought of
arresting you,” said Herr Leiblen, the magistrate.

My spirits rose on hearing this. I said to myself, “All is not lost yet.
Perhaps everything will go off smoothly, and I shall soon be set free,
if only the Russian Government is kept out of the game.” That was the
thought which occupied me while the magistrate was writing out the
protocol. He then said, pointing to a gentleman who sat at a table
somewhat apart, “That is the interpreter who is assisting us in your
case, a professor of our University.”

During my examination I had once or twice looked round at this
gentleman. He seemed known to me, and his presence caused me involuntary
uneasiness.

“You can speak Russian with the Herr Professor,” concluded Herr Leiblen,
as he left the room to fetch some document.

“Do you not recognise me?” said the interpreter, turning round.

“Professor Thun!” cried I in great astonishment.

“What! am I so much altered that you didn’t know me before?“ he asked,
and did not wait for my answer, but continued without pause, “How can I
help you?”

“Do you know who I really am?” I asked, without replying, and a cold
shudder ran through me.

“Yes; I know your true name. But there is no need for alarm. You have
turned quite pale!”

His recognition had indeed given me no small fright. I had come to know
Professor Thun about a year and a half before this time in Basel,
whither I had then betaken myself in order that, being there at some
distance from the colony of Russian refugees, I might be freer from
interruptions to my studies than when surrounded by friends and
acquaintances. I had matriculated in the Basel University, and was
attending Professor Thun’s lectures on political economy and statistics.
Karl Moor, a leader of the Basel working-men, had introduced me
personally to the professor, who supposed me to be simply a Russian
student, not knowing me by my real name, but under the assumed one of
Nicholas Kridner. He invited me to call on him, and confided to me his
plan of writing a history of the revolutionary movement in Russia. Of
this plan I had already heard, and it was partly this that had attracted
me to Basel. Professor Thun was a Rhinelander, had studied at Dorpat,
and had then passed some years in the interior of Russia. He spoke
Russian fluently, and was pretty well up in Russian affairs. When he
found, in conversation with me, that I was not unacquainted with the
Russian revolutionary movement, he suggested that I should help him in
his work, to which of course I gladly assented; and thus it happened
that we became rather intimate. In this way I learned Professor Thun’s
views regarding the Terrorists and their deeds. He condemned them
ruthlessly; according to his convictions, it was the duty of all
European governments to refuse such persons the right of asylum, and to
deliver them over as ordinary criminals to the Russian authorities. In
particular I had a lively recollection of the following occurrence.
Professor Thun had given a lecture in the Basel “Freisinniges Verein,”
before a large audience, on “Two Episodes in the Russian Revolutionary
Movement.” These two episodes were the attempted assassination of
Alexander II. and the Tchigirìn case. In speaking of the latter he
related how Stefanòvitch, Bohanòvsky, and I had escaped from the
fortress of Kiëv;[11] and he closed with the remark that these criminals
were living in foreign parts, and had “unfortunately” not yet been
captured. I had an opportunity afterwards of speaking to him on the
subject, and gathered the impression that if he knew my real name
Professor Thun would not only break off all connection with me, but
under certain circumstances would even perhaps assist in my “capture.”
This led me to reduce my personal relations with him to a minimum, and
besides I shortly afterwards left Basel.

Footnote 11:

  See note, p. 98.

Now here I was standing, a prisoner, before this man, and he knew who I
really was! My feelings may be imagined.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, trembling with excitement.

“Your friend, Karl Moor, told me it in confidence after you had left
Basel.”

“And although you know who I am you offer me your help?” asked I in
surprise.

“Yes. Only tell me how to help you, and I will do what I can.”

I could scarcely grasp it, but one look in his eyes convinced me that I
might trust him; it was that intuitive confidence that, once given, is
unbounded.

“Thank you,” said I. “Well, if I do not succeed in getting out of prison
by lawful means, I shall try to escape. Would you stand by me then?”

“Certainly,” said he simply and earnestly.

I still could hardly believe my ears. This German professor, whom I had
heard publicly express his regret that the minions of Tsarism had not
yet caught me—in other words, that I was not hanging on the gallows—this
same man now offered me help to fly from a German prison! He gave me,
however, undeniable proof of his sincerity. As translator he was in
possession of all books, letters, etc., taken from me; he now produced
my notebook, and advised me to tear out and destroy pages on which he
had noticed addresses entered that might prejudice my cause. Of course,
I immediately acted on his suggestion.

I then proposed to him that he should go to Basel without delay, tell my
friend Axelrod what had occurred, instruct him what steps he could take
to obtain my release by legal means, and finally, arrange with him some
way of effecting my escape should the danger of extradition to Russia
arise.

This task Professor Thun fulfilled to the letter; and during my
imprisonment in Freiburg he did me many kind offices, running serious
risk of thereby compromising his own position. He arranged secret
meetings in Freiburg Cathedral with my friends, who had come in haste on
the chance of being useful to me. He was also the medium of both verbal
and written communication between me and my comrades.

Having the right of free access to me, as the authorities placed full
confidence in an illustrious professor, he often had me called into the
translator’s office, where we could chat undisturbed. In these
conversations I saw how much he had taken my affairs to heart. He went
so far as to offer his house as a refuge if I were obliged to attempt an
escape. Sometimes he joked about the part he was playing:—“Look at me,
now,” he would say, laughing; “I, a German professor of dignity and
position, have become a Russian conspirator; and this peaceful town of
Freiburg is the scene of a plot!” Through his relations with the
magistrate he knew how my case was going on, and of course he kept me
posted up.

At the first hearing of my case I made the following statement:—I was a
Russian student, and had come abroad in pursuit of my studies. I had
married here, and had one child. Hitherto I had lived in Switzerland,
but now I wished to remain in Freiburg, whither my wife, now in Zurich,
was to follow me. I lived partly by literary work, partly on private
means. In Switzerland I had attended the University as “hospitant” (an
occasional student at lectures).[12] As for my political opinions, when
I left Russia they were still somewhat undecided; but the influence of
German literature had led me to join the Social Democrats, and I had
determined to assist, as far as I could, in the propagating of their
views in my own country.[13] When, for various reasons, I had determined
to live in Germany, I had brought with me the publications found in my
possession, meaning to sell them eventually to the country people. They
were not prohibited in Germany, and their possession was in no possible
sense an infringement of German law. “And now,” I concluded, “in a free
German town, in Frei-Burg, I have been arrested with no legal
justification, without any of the prescribed formalities, I am subjected
to all manner of indignities, and clapped into gaol like a common
malefactor. As if that were not enough, the police, with no shadow of
excuse, seized upon and arrested a lady of this town as if she were a
pickpocket or disturber of the peace. I may well ask, What difference is
there between this constitutional state of the German Empire and the
absolute despotism of Russia? No one could have been worse treated, even
in Russia!”

Footnote 12:

  These particulars were necessary, because they applied to Bulìgin, the
  friend from whom I had borrowed a passport for this journey, and whose
  name I always used when travelling. He really did live at Zurich with
  his wife and child, and attended the University there.

Footnote 13:

  This corresponded pretty nearly with fact. About a year previously, in
  1883, Plehànov, Vera Zassoùlitch, Axelrod, and I had founded the
  Social-Democratic organisation—“The League for the Emancipation of
  Labour”; the object of which was to spread the doctrines of Marx in
  Russia, by means of translations and original writings. Some of the
  papers in my box were of this description, the first fruits of our
  literary activity, which had just been printed by our private press
  established for the purpose.

These words seemed to make some impression on the magistrate. He walked
up and down excitedly, while he dictated my statement to the clerk,
assured me repeatedly of his sympathy, and asserted his keen disapproval
of the way in which the police had behaved towards me and the young
lady. At one point he muttered, “Still, as Othello says, ‘The
handkerchief, the handkerchief!’” Herr Leiblen appeared to be quite on
my side, and Professor Thun told me later that he had declared the
matter seemed to him harmless enough; in his opinion here was a
perfectly innocent person being kept shut up in prison, and he hoped I
should soon be set free. I had therefore a well-grounded hope of
obtaining my release in due course; nevertheless doubts continued to
arise, and thoughts of escape still haunted me. With some slight help
from outside it would probably have been by no means difficult during
these first days of my imprisonment.

One day, while I was still in this state of suspense betwixt hope and
fear, I was called into the visitors' room. I expected to find Professor
Thun there, and was surprised at being confronted by a man perfectly
unknown to me. He introduced himself by name (I cannot recollect it
now), and informed me that he was a lawyer, who had been engaged by my
friends to undertake my defence. He announced himself as a comrade, a
member of the Social-Democratic party, and invited me to be quite open
with him, as my friends had already told him everything concerning my
past career. “You think of attempting to escape?” he asked in a whisper;
and when I assented he continued quickly, “That would be a most fatal
mistake. I have just seen the minutes of your case; the affair is going
splendidly for you. I have no doubt you will soon be set at liberty. Why
should you risk the dangers of a flight? If the attempt were to fail you
would be in an infinitely worse position than now. I have been talking
to the magistrate; he is convinced there is nothing of any significance
against you. As soon as inquiries in Switzerland have elicited a
satisfactory reply regarding your identity you will be released.”

“But,” I interposed, “supposing a simultaneous inquiry is set on foot in
Russia?”

“There is no ground whatever for such a proceeding,” replied the lawyer,
“and if it were contemplated we should get to know it somehow. Germany
is not Russia. With us legal proceedings are not secret. On the
contrary, the law provides that your trial shall be held in public, and
all documents relative to the case are without delay submitted to me as
your counsel. In such documents mention would be made if an
understanding with the Russian authorities were suggested. In our
conduct of such cases it is absolutely out of the question that such a
weighty complication should be kept private.”

“Yes,” I interrupted, “but how can you be sure that the police executive
will not put the political and administrative authorities in
communication with Russia?”

“The Government and the police would never combine in an affair of law
without some announcement. You were arrested because there were grounds
for supposing you in relation with persons who had made themselves
liable to prosecution by German law. If you are set free—as neither I
nor the magistrate have the slightest doubt that you will be—you will be
discharged unconditionally. There is nothing now to wait for but the
establishment of your identity in Switzerland. You may rely on this. As
a German lawyer I know all our legal methods; you, on the other hand,
judge from Russian conditions, which are altogether different.”

An inner voice said to me that the consistency of German law was not so
entirely to be trusted; but I had no rational ground for demur, as
German affairs of the kind were perfectly strange to me. And an attempt
to escape, although it might have been easily managed in the first
instance, became more risky as time went on. Though not quite abandoning
the idea, these considerations led me to set it aside for the moment,
till we had some proof of collaboration between the Russian and German
Governments. Apparently such a step could not be hidden from me; and I
had the well-known and influential Professor Thun on my side, who was on
the best of terms with the authorities both of town and state. News must
reach me through him if anything fresh were planned.



                              CHAPTER III
    UNCERTAINTY—PRISON LIFE—THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR—A CHANGE OF CELLS


For some time longer I had to remain in the prison of Freiburg,
vacillating between the expectation of speedy release and the dread of
extradition. Every day I changed my mood a dozen, nay, a hundred times;
and this everlasting alternation had a most depressing effect. The days
dragged on, and seemed endless, although I tried to occupy myself by
every possible device. I was well supplied with books—my comrades and
Professor Thun saw to that—and I was accommodated with writing
materials. So I read much, and tried to put on paper my thoughts,
impressions, and recollections.

But it was not only uncertainty as to my own fate that worked on my
spirits: anxiety about my friends, and about the further development of
our “League for the Emancipation of Labour” troubled me. Our
organisation was only in its infancy; we were but a small band, and our
means scanty. In coming to Germany for the despatch of our first output
over the Russian border, I had planned at the same time to arrange for
future transport. On this account I had many duties to discharge,
regarding not only money matters, but organisation. I had also left
behind me in Switzerland much business that called for my return as soon
as possible. All my comrades had their hands full; time was precious to
them all. And now not only was I sitting here in prison, condemned to
inaction, but all the other members of our League were occupied with my
affairs, and waiting about to see how they could help me. The
consciousness of this check to our work, and of being its involuntary
cause, oppressed me, and raised my impatience to the highest pitch.

My state can easily be pictured if one imagines a man who has an
important and urgent affair to manage, and who suddenly breaks his leg,
so that instead of pressing on to the goal he must lie inert on a
sick-bed. But in that pitiable state he would be preoccupied with his
physical suffering; and I, being free from pain, was given over entirely
to worry and distress of mind.

The conditions of prison life left much to be desired. At first,
particularly, I found them hard to bear, till by degrees I accustomed
myself to German regulations. As I have already said, the cells were not
lighted at night, and there was nothing for a prisoner to do but to
sleep away the long hours of darkness, if he could. I afterwards learned
that light was denied for fear of fire, and on the same ground smoking
was forbidden. What there was to burn I could not imagine; for, except
the doors, the window-frames, and the floors, there was no wood, the
building being of massive stone.[14]

Footnote 14:

  During my stay in Siberia, later, this fear of fire in the German
  prison was often brought to my mind. Thousands of prisoners, condemned
  to exile or to penal servitude, are there confined in wooden barracks,
  serving alike as prisons and as halting-places for convoys of exiles
  on the march. These buildings are always lighted, and the prisoners
  smoke quite calmly, without anyone thinking of danger from fire.

The irksomeness of the long evenings without light, and the prohibition
of smoking, must for many people be not only a discomfort, but a hard
penance. Yet there should have been no question of punishment in this
prison, as only accused persons awaiting trial were detained there.

The behaviour of the prison officials towards the prisoners was anything
but tender. For instance, this is what took place on one of my first
days. Exercise in the prison yard was taken by all the inmates of one
corridor at the same time. We were trotted round in a continual
goose-step, always a certain number of paces distant each one from the
other. One felt like a horse being led round the riding-school by a
rope. I found that many prisoners regarded it as a humiliation, and
preferred to forego the chance of fresh air. One day during this walk
the military guard was being changed in the prison yard. The formalities
of German drill were new to me, and involuntarily I stopped a moment to
look, thus upsetting our beautiful order by not keeping at the correct
distance between my preceder and follower; besides, perhaps I also
dropped out of line an inch or so. Suddenly I felt someone seize me by
the shoulder, abusing me violently. I scarcely knew what was happening
till I found myself being raged at by the warder in my cell, whither he
had whisked me off. The man was like one possessed, and threatened to
deprive me of exercise if I behaved as I had done. At first I could not
understand what frightful misdemeanour I had committed. When it dawned
on me that all this was because of my momentary pause, it was my turn to
show temper. I asked the man how he dared treat me so, informed him that
prisoner though I was I would not permit anyone to knock me about or
abuse me, and said that if such a harmless infringement of discipline
was looked on as an offence against German prison rules, it was his
plain duty to have warned me of the fact, and so on. This had its
effect; the man’s bearing instantly became milder, and thenceforward our
intercourse was on the most peaceful footing.

The prison rations were quite insufficient; there was never enough to
satisfy a full-grown man. If I remember rightly, they consisted of a
pound and a half of rye bread daily, and twice in the day a little soup
or gruel. Meat was only allowed twice a week in the first month, and
that in microscopic portions. Even the gaolers admitted that unless a
prisoner had means for providing himself with extra food, he would never
get enough to eat.

The cells on the first floor, one of which I first inhabited, were
roomy, bright, and clean. For furniture they were provided with a table,
a stool, and a bed, the latter having a mattress, straw pillow, and
woollen covering. In one corner of the room stood the stove, heated from
the corridor and surrounded by an iron grating intended to prevent
escape by the chimney. On the wall hung a copy of the regulations,
whereby prisoners were informed of the various penalties for the
slightest departure from the rules. All these rules were framed to spare
the staff trouble, and to make the business of looking after the inmates
as simple as possible. The interest of the inmates was not considered;
they were not treated like people unconvicted of crime, but rather as
malefactors deserving punishment, which the prison staff on their own
responsibility had to see carried out in their own way. I will give an
instance.

One day I was conducted from my cell to a corridor on the ground-floor,
where a number of prisoners were already ranged along the wall,
evidently awaiting something. I was directed to a place. I wanted to
know what was happening; and after I had asked several times in vain,
the gaoler told me that the Catholic priest had come, and wished to
speak to all the prisoners, who would be taken to him one by one in
order. I said that I was a Socialist and had nothing to do with Catholic
or any other priests. I therefore begged to be taken back to my cell.
This seemed to strike the man as irresistibly comic, and he burst into
an ironic laugh.

“What you want or don’t want is all the same to us. He wants to see you,
and so you will be taken to him.”

The warders who stood by were immensely tickled. They joked about the
Russian barbarian who came to a German prison and expected to have his
own opinions taken into account. So before the priest I went, but our
conversation was of the shortest. To his question about my religion I
answered that I was a Social Democrat, and belonged to no Church.
Whereupon he looked at me compassionately and dismissed me.

Another disagreeable feature of life in this prison was the system of
espionage. Often, when I was buried in my book or writing, a warder
would suddenly appear. He would creep along on tiptoe to open the door
noiselessly and spy round, probably designing to catch me if I were
looking out of the window—a diversion strictly forbidden by the rules.
Not only here, but in other German prisons that I have seen, the
extravagant care with which the prisoners and their things were
inspected was perfectly ridiculous. For instance, a dozen oranges sent
me by my friends aroused the suspicions of the warders, and they
conscientiously cut up every single orange into quarters to see if there
were anything inside! So far as I know, even Russian gendarmes have
never given one credit for contriving a hiding-place in an uncut orange
or apple. The good people, however, do not achieve their purpose, in
spite of all their cleverness. The “kassiber,”[15] or written message to
or from prisoners, passes under their very noses. Nor had I ever any
difficulty in getting forbidden articles conveyed into any German
prison.

Footnote 15:

  “Kassiber,” Russian prison-slang.

As I have said, the numerous petty formalities made me very impatient at
first, but I accustomed myself at last more or less to German prison
methods, and the officials dropped their over-zealous harshness towards
me, and became more confidential. The fact that I was a foreigner, a
Russian, rather interested them, as probably they had never even seen
one before. And then, however incorruptible a German official may be,
the possession of worldly resources cannot fail to influence him. The
staff knew that I was in command of money. The chief inspector, a man
named Roth, boarded me; and they knew I had everything that could
mitigate the hardness of my lot, that my friends, in fact, supplied me
with all sorts of little comforts and luxuries. This seemed to impress
the prison staff, and I also was for ever telling them I should
certainly be released very soon. I really almost believed it, and they
seemed to do so, too—at any rate, for a time.

The staff consisted of three men—two warders and the chief inspector,
who was also the governor of the gaol. All three often came to chat with
me; they asked me questions about Russia, and on their side related much
about German matters—prisons, laws, and other things in which they were
interested. They all impressed me as being perfectly contented with
their situations; indeed, their wages were comparatively high—up to
2,000 marks (£100) and more a year, if I am not mistaken. The warder
with whom I had had the tiff recounted above paid me many visits. He,
like the other two, had been a soldier, and was therefore imbued with
notions of strict military discipline, which is the watchword throughout
German prisons. Though in outward appearance hard and even forbidding,
he was really a good-natured creature. Of his own initiative he asked me
to let him have the remains of my meals, to take to a neighbouring
prisoner who was poor and often went hungry through being unable to
afford extra food. Of course I gladly consented. This warder was a big,
powerfully-built man, aged about thirty, who had taken his present
situation because he did not like his original trade—that of a joiner.
Like most German workmen, he had only been to a _Volksschule_ (public
elementary school), but the instruction given there is far better than
in similar schools in my own country; and in comparison with our workmen
of like standing, he might be considered a highly intellectual person.
We talked over all sorts of things—politics among the rest—and he told
me he was a supporter of the existing Government—the National Liberals,
I think. My own attainments caused him great admiration, especially my
knowledge of French and German, as well as of my own mother-tongue.

The way they dealt with my money was a little odd. As I have said, the
money in my pocket-book was taken possession of at the time of my
arrest. Some days later the inspector presented me with an account of
expenditure. It appeared that the police had been most generous on my
behalf. A day’s use of the room at the hotel, which I had barely seen,
was paid for, and four or five marks in addition as “compensation for
disturbance.” Furthermore, as the good people had not been able to open
my second box, although they had the key, they had paid a locksmith
(very liberally too) to open it. Naturally I made no objection to the
bill, but I felt somewhat amused at having to pay for the “disturbance”
of my arrest, and the breaking open of my own trunk!

Soon after my imprisonment I was taken to a photographer’s and
photographed. I did not like this at all, as I feared that my portrait
might be sent to Russia and recognised; but I could not make any
protest, lest my reasons should be suspected. The photograph was needed
for the inquiry in Switzerland, that by means of it I might be
identified as Bulìgin. The Swiss authorities certified that it did
represent Bulìgin, with whose passport I always travelled; so that part
of the inquiry was got through safely. Also, the proofs I adduced of my
not being implicated in the doings of Yablonski and his friend were
accepted, and it was agreed that I had neither circulated forbidden
literature nor had had any in my possession. Weeks passed away before
these formalities were accomplished, and at last, nearly two months
after my arrest, the magistrate informed me that he should close the
affair in a few days, and that he himself was satisfied there were no
grounds for my prosecution. The decision lay with the Public
Prosecutor,[16] who might concur in this, and so release me at once; or
he might after all think fit to take the matter into court. In the
latter event, however, the judge would most probably uphold the finding
of the magistrate; and even if against all expectation a prosecution
should be set up and a penalty enforced, the sentence would be such as
my term of imprisonment here would be held to fulfil. In any case I
might be certain my release was now only a question of days. It seemed
absurd to distrust this forecast, and it is but natural to expect what
one ardently desires; so I began to feel easy.

Footnote 16:

  This term is the nearest English equivalent to the German
  _Staatsanwalt_, a functionary attached to every court of law. A
  corresponding official exists in Russia, with a colleague, the Public
  Advocate, who undertakes the defence of any prisoner unable or
  unwilling to employ a counsel of his own.—_Trans._

Some days after I was again sent for to the visitors’ room, where I
found Frau Axelrod and a grey-haired gentleman, the Public Prosecutor,
Von Berg. In stern tones he informed us that we were at liberty to
converse, but only in German; at the first Russian word he would
separate us. This precaution, and the whole behaviour of the grim old
gentleman, did not quite bear out the idea of speedy release for me; and
knowing him to be acquainted with the magistrate’s views, I wondered
what his reasons were, but I was not apprehensive. Frau Axelrod and I
did not find much to say to each other under this supervision, and our
interview was brief.

I remember the next few days very well. On the morrow the inspector,
Roth, came and told me, in a most cheerful and friendly way, that I must
change over into a cell on the ground-floor, as the one in which I was
had to be renovated. He was quite apologetic, regretting that the other
cell would not be so comfortable for me. This change did not please me
at all. My plans of escape had all been based on the situation of my
cell, and its being on the first floor would have been no impediment.
One of my friends had hired a room in the opposite house, towards which
the window of my cell looked, so that at a pinch we could communicate by
prearranged signals. Besides these reasons of business, so to speak, on
other grounds I was sorry to quit my now familiar quarters. My
associations with these four walls were not all unpleasant, and looking
out of the window had been my greatest distraction. On market days many
lively scenes were enacted between buyers and sellers—peasants of the
district. Sometimes military exercises took place in the square, and the
unfamiliar drill interested me. But above all I loved to climb up to the
window in the evenings to watch the children, who, when twilight came
on, always romped about the square, playing all sorts of games. Their
merry laughter and shouting took me back to my home in South Russia and
my own childish days.

All this came to an end with my change of lodging. My new cell was dark,
less roomy, and the window looked into the yard. This latter
circumstance made escape well-nigh impossible. I comforted myself with
the thought that the idea of flight was needless, and tried to reckon
how many days were likely to elapse before my release. I argued that my
transfer to another cell was probably in view of my departure, or else a
mere chance, necessary for the reason given me by the warder. But my
friends took it quite otherwise when they saw me no more at the window,
and thought I must be already on my way to Russia!



                               CHAPTER IV
THE VISIT OF “MY WIFE”—MORE PLANS OF ESCAPE—THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR SHOWS
                  HIS HAND—PREPARATIONS FOR A JOURNEY


On one of the following days I was told there was someone to see me. No
sooner had I crossed the threshold of the visitors’ room than a young
lady threw herself, laughing and weeping, into my arms. It was Frau
Bulìgin. As I was in prison under her husband’s name, she had now come
to play the part of my wife; and so well did she play it as even to
soften the heart of the Public Prosecutor, who witnessed this moving
scene of meeting between such a young and loving pair. He left us alone
for a moment, and only when the first emotional greetings were over did
he warn us that we must speak German; but his tone was less stern and
dry than at my first encounter with him, when Frau Axelrod was there.
Frau Bulìgin had at once whispered to me that I must somehow contrive
that we should speak Russian, as she had important things to talk about.
I therefore begged Herr von Berg to let us speak in our own language.

“I cannot,” he said shortly; “you both seem able to speak German quite
well enough to understand one another.”

“You must allow,” said I, “that however well a man speaks a foreign
tongue, when he meets his wife after weeks of imprisonment and in
circumstances like mine, he wants to speak freely. We cannot talk of
family affairs in German. But,” I continued, “if you insist about this,
though I cannot understand by what law nor for what reason, could you
not let Professor Thun be present as he would understand all we said in
Russian?”

After some further demur he at last relented so far as to say that
though he would not request Professor Thun’s attendance himself, not
being in any way bound to do so, yet if the professor chose to do us
such a favour, we might then be permitted to speak Russian. Of course I
would not betray my relations with Professor Thun, so I carefully
inquired his address, that my wife might take him a message.

“Your wife shall be given it in my office,” said Herr von Berg. So he
and Frau Bulìgin departed, and I was taken back to my cell.

After a short interval I was sent for again, and found Professor Thun
with the others. I had not seen him for some time, as he had been away
for his Easter holidays; besides, his official duties as translator had
come to an end, and my case being now in the hands of the Public
Prosecutor, he had not the same freedom of access to me. Frau Bulìgin
told me that she had hurried hither because of the great anxiety felt
about me by my comrades. Russian spies were closely watching all my
friends and acquaintances in Geneva; showing my photograph (which of
course strongly resembled that sent from Freiburg by the police), and
asking where I was. From this my friends concluded that the Russian
Government was already on my track; they feared that if my imprisonment
lasted much longer my real identity would certainly be discovered, and
they therefore begged me to try and effect my escape. We talked over
every chance, and tried to work out a plan, Professor Thun taking the
warmest interest, and making many suggestions. But, as I said before,
absolutely no plans were feasible from the cell I was in now; and I will
not trouble to describe those we discussed, except to repeat that
Professor Thun played an important part in them all, even undertaking to
provide me with a key to the outer door of the prison. The personal risk
he was willing to accept, or even court, was great; yet this was the man
who had at one time avowed his desire of handing me over to Russian
justice! After eighteen years it is scarcely comprehensible to me, spite
of my lively recollection of his kindness and sympathy.

The Public Prosecutor, Von Berg, who remained in the room during all
this confabulation, played rather a comical part. Of course, he
understood not a word, as we spoke Russian; but whenever we laughed he
smiled indulgently, as if amused at us. I cannot imagine what would have
been the feelings of this painfully correct and stern old gentleman if
he had known the chief cause of our merriment, which was simply that we
had to concoct the report of our conversation with which Professor Thun
was subsequently to regale his worship.

When we had finished our consultations, which lasted rather a long time,
Frau Bulìgin took a very tender farewell of me. She thanked Von Berg for
having allowed us to speak Russian, and asked him how soon he thought I
should be released. I think he told her that he believed the case would
be concluded in a few days, mentioning the date. In any case, he added,
if I were set free I should be handed over to the police to be conducted
over whatever frontier was convenient—the Swiss, he supposed, being the
nearest.

I held fast to the hope that it really would be so, and tried to stifle
the doubts that persisted in rising. It was certainly pleasanter to
dream of prospective freedom, than to brood over the consequences of
extradition to Russia, or even of being set over the Russian border. The
sight of Frau Bulìgin had aroused keen longings for liberty; fancy
painted joyful pictures, my thoughts dwelt on my friends and my work.
Mentally I lived through many scenes of welcome, and saw our circle
setting to work with redoubled energy at our “League for the
Emancipation of Labour.” I planned out to the smallest detail how I
would make up for my enforced idleness. I lived only in the future, and
looked on the dreary present as if it were a long-vanished past, a
disagreeable episode that I and mine could talk over as far behind us.

                  *       *       *       *       *

“To-day the order for my release will be made out.” I remember how I
awoke on a certain May morning with this thought in my mind, and
instantly began to conjecture in what manner the announcement would be
made to me.

“You are to go to the Public Prosecutor,” said the warder, breaking in
on my visions.

“It is for my formal discharge,” was my first thought; “the man is
keeping his word. Strange that the judge has been so quick in
pronouncing his decision; it is still quite early,” I meditated, as I
went along the corridor.

In the office sat Herr von Berg at a table; beside him was a young
clerk, and the table was covered with bundles of documents.

“To-day, as you are aware,” said the Public Prosecutor, turning to me,
“judgment was to be given on your case. Before I inform you of the
verdict, I must again have your assurance that your name is Bulìgin, and
your home Moscow.”

“Certainly. I am Bulìgin, of Moscow,” I answered.

“Read the document relating to that point,” said the Public Prosecutor
to the clerk. The latter read aloud in dry, business-like tones a
communication, apparently emanating from some Moscow official, stating
curtly that there was no person of the name of Bulìgin answering to the
description given.[17]

Footnote 17:

  This was true. The passport was forged, and my comrade who travelled
  with it bore another name in Russia.

“What have you to say to this?” asked Herr von Berg coldly.

I felt that the blood had left my cheeks, and that my knees were
trembling; but I pulled myself together at once, and began to defend
myself, speaking rapidly, warmly, and earnestly.

I saw my critical situation, and felt the ground slipping from under my
feet. My fear of communications with the Russian Government was
justified, and it was now a fight for life. I had so often dreaded this
eventuality, that my plan of defence was prepared.

“Listen!” I cried. “I declare to you that I am Bulìgin; but I confess
that I do not come from Moscow, and that the other particulars I gave
you about myself were false. This amount of deception was forced upon
me, foreseeing as I did the course that might be taken by the
authorities here, and knowing too well what Russian methods are. _You_
do not know those methods, and I must explain. It often happens that
people are denounced to the gendarmerie for having a prohibited book in
their possession. Not only are they themselves arrested, but everyone
who has consorted with them is liable to arrest, and anyone whose
address is found in their rooms. Their houses are watched, and everyone
who visits them is seized. Whole families are persecuted in this way,
and think themselves lucky if they get off at last after untold
annoyance. Quite innocent people are often in prison for months. When I
came from democratic Switzerland to constitutional Germany, with no
intention of contravening German law, little did I expect to meet with
an experience which shows me that, at any rate as regards foreigners,
there is not much to choose between Germany and Russia in some of their
dealings. I find to my cost that without any legal formalities the
police may arrest and imprison whom they choose; that they can make a
domiciliary search without a warrant, and may treat a harmless traveller
as if he were a criminal. I was kept in gaol for two days without being
brought before a magistrate; I saw a young lady seized in the street and
brought to the prison, just as if in Russia. What ground had I for
trusting the magistrate’s assurance that there would only be an ordinary
judicial inquiry? I took it for granted that the police, as with us in
Russia, could override the administrators of the law, and that the
police would be in correspondence with the Russian authorities. This
document proves that I was right.

“Well, then, if I had given the true facts about myself, the police, as
is evident, would have handed them on to their Russian _confrères_, who,
of course, when they heard I had been arrested here because I had two
boxes of books forbidden in Russia, (though not in Germany,) would have
started their usual game in the town whence I really come. My people
would have been subjected to annoyance; my brothers and sisters, who
share my views, would perhaps have been found possessed of forbidden
literature, and clapped into gaol along with many others. Russia is not
a constitutional country, and therefore I was obliged to guard myself by
suppressing particulars here that might have been used against my
friends there.”

“You assert, then,” said the Public Prosecutor scornfully, “that you are
Bulìgin, but that you do not come from Moscow; and you refuse to give
the name of your native place?”

“Yes, I refuse for the reasons I have stated.”

“Read the next report,” said Herr von Berg, and the clerk read aloud:—

“The prisoner now in the State prison of Freiburg, calling himself
Bulìgin, is in reality Leo Deutsch, who in May, 1876, attempted—in
conjunction with Jakob Stefanòvitch—to murder Nicholas Gorinòvitch.
Therefore the Government of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, through
their representative in the dominions of His Highness the Grand Duke of
Baden, demand the extradition of both the aforesaid persons. And at the
same time His Majesty’s Government consider themselves bound to draw the
attention of the German authorities to the fact that the aforesaid Leo
Deutsch has several times already broken out of prison, and should
therefore be most jealously watched, both during his incarceration and
while being transported to Russia.”

I have transcribed this document almost literally, for though nearly two
decades have passed since that moment, it seems present to me this day.
“It’s all up with me,“ I thought, and torturing visions rose before me.

“What reply have you to make?” I heard the dry question of the Public
Prosecutor, and saw his malicious smile of triumph.

With a tremendous effort I collected myself.

“What I have just heard read,” I said as calmly as I could, “scarcely
surprises me. It bears out all I have been told as to the methods of the
Russian Government. Their game is clear. When they want to get hold of a
harmless Russian Socialist who has been arrested in a constitutional
country they will not allow that he is the person he claims to be, but
give him the name of someone implicated in a serious crime. This is
nothing new. For example, Rumania was induced in this way to deliver up
a certain Katz, who was then immediately exiled to Siberia by
‘administrative methods,’ as is said in Russia, that is, without any
judicial process. Evidently they are doing just the same in my case. The
best proof of this lies in this document itself. You see there that the
Government not only demands the extradition of Deutsch, but also of
Stefanòvitch, although the latter was long ago arrested in Russia and
sent to penal servitude in the Siberian mines, and although his
complicity in the attempt against Gorinòvitch never came into question
at his trial. It is plain that the extradition of Stefanòvitch is asked
for in order that on the next opportunity some peaceful Socialist may be
claimed as being he. What I am telling you would be confirmed by
Professor Thun, who not only is acquainted with Russian ways, but has
particularly studied our revolutionary movement.”

This ended the interview. When I was back in my cell, and could collect
my thoughts, I felt completely crushed. My extradition seemed certain,
and escape my only hope. But that this hope was futile I quickly
discovered. Following the Russian Government’s warning as to my having
often broken out of prison before (as a matter of fact I had done so
twice),[18] a special warder was now posted at my door, with
instructions not to stir from the spot, and to watch my every movement.
The other warders also were told to keep an eye on me, and—what had
never happened before—the chief inspector, Roth, had been present at the
interview described above.

Footnote 18:

  See pp. 86 and 98.

Soon after midday I was again taken before the Public Prosecutor. This
time he seemed more graciously inclined, and treated me with as near an
approach to geniality as could be expected from such an arid man of law.
He informed me that Professor Thun had endorsed my description of
Russian judicial proceedings; and he then continued, “It is possible
that an injustice is being done you in ascribing to you the crime spoken
of in the communication of the Russian Government, and I am prepared to
assist you in defending yourself. You must understand that in Germany it
is no part of a Public Prosecutor’s duties to pass sentence, but he has
to get at the truth, and to discharge persons who are unjustly accused.
Give me any particulars that would tend to exonerate you, and I will do
what I can for you.”

This change in the behaviour of the Public Prosecutor was evidently
owing to Professor Thun’s influence. I knew quite well that there was
not much left to hope for now, but I saw I should try to make use of
Herr von Berg’s more favourable attitude to gain a little time. If my
extradition could be delayed I might yet find some opportunity of
escape. So I gratefully accepted the Public Prosecutor’s offer, and
begged him to let me have an opportunity of consultation with my lawyer
and the official translator, as I myself had no acquaintance with the
forms of German law. Meanwhile, I said, I could tell him at once how I
hoped to prove I was not Deutsch; I had reason to believe that he was in
London, and if my friends there could find him, he would no doubt be
quite willing to give his testimony in my behalf. (I was hoping, with
the help of Professor Thun, to arrange that one of the Russian refugees
in London should play the part of Deutsch, _i.e._ of myself.)

Herr von Berg informed me that the granting of this request lay with the
Minister of Justice, to whom he would apply; and with this our interview
terminated.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Events now took on a lively pace. Before this I had sometimes had weeks
to wait between the acts of my drama, and had often longed for the next
hearing, that I might at least know what was going on. Now, however,
things went faster than I cared for. The next day I was again called
before the Public Prosecutor. This time, with Herr von Berg, his clerk,
and inspector Roth, who stood sentinel at the door, I found a man,
strange to me, dressed in the uniform of a Russian officer of justice,
with a glittering order in his buttonhole.

“Good morning, Deutsch! Don’t you know me?” asked the unknown in
Russian, with an agreeable smile. “I am the Deputy Public Prosecutor in
the Petersburg Court of Appeal. My name is Bogdanòvitch, and you must
remember me, for I was Deputy Public Prosecutor in Kiëv when you were a
prisoner there.”

“I have never been in prison at Kiëv; and I have not the pleasure of
knowing you,” I answered quietly. And indeed I had never set eyes on the
gentleman before.

“There is no doubt about it, he is Deutsch,” said Bogdanòvitch, turning
to his German colleagues.

“And I declare that I am not,” said I.

“We prefer to believe Herr von Bogdanòvitch,” said Herr von Berg. “You
shall go back to Russia.”

“Then this is what you are doing,” cried I, “you are giving the Russian
Government another opportunity of banishing an innocent man to Siberia.”

“We never send innocent people to Siberia,” said Bogdanòvitch promptly.

“You not only send them to Siberia, but to the scaffold,” I cried. “You
say that you belonged to the staff of the Kiëv law courts; then you must
have heard of the judicial murder of an innocent boy, the student
Rozòvsky, which took place there. Perhaps you were concerned in the
case. He was hanged, in spite of the fact that the judge himself allowed
his only offence to lie in the possession of a proclamation, the authors
of which he refused to name.”[19]

Footnote 19:

  Rozòvsky was executed early in the year 1880.

“Rozòvsky was not executed solely on that account,” said Bogdanòvitch,
smiling at the Public Prosecutor, “but because he belonged to the
Socialist party.”

“You see!” I cried, turning to Herr von Berg, “in Germany members of the
Socialist party sit in the Reichstag, and take part in your legislation;
but according to the views of a Russian law-officer, and of the Russian
Government, mere suspicion of being a Socialist, let alone proof, is
enough to send one to the gallows!”

The two gentlemen could not easily answer this, and on the German lawyer
it seemed to make a distinct impression. I saw, however, that the
self-important Herr von Berg found the presence of the Deputy Public
Prosecutor from the Petersburg Appeal Courts rather imposing. From time
to time his glance rested on the glittering order worn by the official;
in addressing the Russian his voice took on an affability hitherto
strange to it; and his painful efforts to pronounce the difficult name
correctly were really comic. Apparently in order to show off his own
importance and zeal to the stranger, he remarked to me severely—

“I see that you are not backward in finding excuses, and for this reason
are trying to paint the Government of your country in the most lurid
colours. But whatever you may think of it, it is to that Government you
must be surrendered, and I am convinced you will be treated in Russia
with all legal equity.”

“Oh, certainly, certainly!” Bogdanòvitch hastened to assure him.

I was led back to my cell, and what I suffered in mind during the next
few days I need not describe; the reader can well imagine it. It was
clear to me that all hope of release was gone; yet I could not resign
myself to the thought, and my brain was always busy with plans of
rescue. I counted on the time that must necessarily be absorbed in
making out the terms of my extradition, and concocted a long letter of
conspiracy to my friends, hoping to forward it through Professor Thun.
Two or three days went by before I could get it finished; and meanwhile
I was again called before the Public Prosecutor, although the day was
Sunday. Evidently things were being hurried on.

“The Government have decided to deliver you up to Russia,” he began,
“but on this condition: that you shall be brought before a regular
tribunal, and only prosecuted on the count of the Gorinòvitch case.[20]
Your request for an interview with your lawyer and the interpreter is
refused.”

Footnote 20:

  The object of the treaty was to ensure the trial of the case in the
  ordinary criminal courts. The Russian Government’s practice, in
  dealing with “politicals,” was to subject them to martial law, and so
  obtain heavier sentences; _e.g._ capital punishment, which is not
  inflicted at all under the Russian civil code.—_Trans._

After he had read me the decision of the Baden Government, Herr von Berg
informed me that I was to start for Russia that very day. As I left him
I remarked that I should certainly be sent before a special court and
judged by martial law.

“That is quite impossible,” was his rejoinder; “it would be a
contravention of the treaty and contrary to international law.”

Once alone in my cell, I began preparations for my journey. These were
not so simple as might be supposed. Notwithstanding the excessive care
with which everything sent me by my friends was inspected, I had become
possessed of an English file for cutting through iron gratings, a pair
of scissors to cut my hair and beard in case of need, and also money in
German and Russian banknotes. I had to dispose of these things somehow.
The file I decided to part with, as it was now hardly likely to be of
any use, and would be hard to conceal; so I broke it in two and threw it
down the waste-pipe of the closet. The other things I managed to secrete
in such a manner that I should be able to avail myself of them if I had
occasion on the journey. The warder at the cell-door never let me out of
his sight; yet I managed to hide them in my clothes so that there was a
chance of their escaping the searchers. All this was like the drowning
man’s clutch at a straw. I did not deceive myself as to the strict watch
to which I should be subjected, and the futility of any hope of speedy
rescue. But in such circumstances even useless precautions serve at
least to distract one’s thoughts, and my thoughts were not of the
pleasantest. I knew what was before me, and pictured my future. Long,
long years of prison! It was almost more bearable to think of death than
of that living grave.

“Of what use would my life be?” I asked myself; and the answer was
devoid of consolation.



                               CHAPTER V
   THE JOURNEY TO RUSSIA—IN THE CATTLE-TRUCK—THE FRANKFORT AND BERLIN
       PRISONS—THE FRONTIER-STATION—THROUGH WARSAW TO PETERSBURG


When evening came I was sent off in a closed carriage, accompanied by
two policemen in plain clothes, who had been enjoined to use all
possible vigilance. The carriage was stopped at a branch of the railway
line some distance from the station, and here my companions and I were
put into an ordinary cattle-truck. As this truck was brought into the
station, where it was attached to a passenger train, I observed an
unusual commotion on the platform, and my guards, who noticed it too,
whispered together excitedly. From chance words that I caught I gathered
that an arrest was being made, and wondered if it could have anything to
do with me. Years afterwards I learned that it was indeed two of my
comrades who were seized on the platform at Freiburg, they having hoped
to travel by my train and be at hand to assist me if I could attempt an
escape. But this was another fiasco. My two friends were kept some days
in prison in Freiburg, and then sent back to Switzerland.

Towards morning we arrived at Frankfurt-am-Main, where for some reason
or other I was again put in prison. The governor of this gaol made a
great show of kindness and consideration towards me, but had his own
reasons for such tactics, as will subsequently appear. When I asked if I
might write a post card to my friends in Switzerland, he assured me most
obligingly that it should be forwarded at once, and furnished me with
writing materials. (Later I found that he had handed over the card to my
guards, who sent it to the Russian authorities; but, of course, it only
contained a few words of greeting.)

The cell to which he conducted me was very comfortable, and looked out
on a lively street; but he posted two policemen in the room to keep
watch over me. He then provided me with an excellent luncheon—or at
least it seemed very good to me, as during the last day or two
excitement had kept me from eating. Seeing that the journey threatened
to be tedious, I wanted to get some books, and the obliging governor
offered to buy them for me at a second-hand shop, where they would be
cheap. I remember choosing a few German and French classics, which he
procured for me at what I thought a reasonable price. Finally, he
invited me to go for a walk in the yard with him.

As soon as we were alone he began giving me a very prolix account of all
his experiences, and then suddenly asked me point-blank if I were not
really the famous Degàiev.[21]

Footnote 21:

  Degàiev, a captain of artillery, was a prominent member of the
  “Naròdnaia Vòlya.” Arrested and imprisoned in the beginning of 1880,
  he soon turned informer, and betrayed many of his former comrades. By
  this he not only gained his liberty, but also won the confidence of
  the notorious persecutor of revolutionists, Colonel Soudyèhkin,
  commander of the Petersburg _Ochrana_ (a body of secret police). Pangs
  of conscience, or fear of the vengeance of the revolutionists, caused
  him to make a full confession to them in 1883, and as amends for his
  treachery he offered to stand by them in an attempt to assassinate
  Soudyèhkin. The latter was difficult to entrap, being extraordinarily
  clever and wary; owing to which qualities he had done more harm to the
  revolutionists than anybody else. Degàiev’s proposal was accepted; and
  in the winter of 1883 he managed to decoy Soudyèhkin, under pretext of
  important business, into his house, where two revolutionists were
  lying in wait, and shot Soudyèhkin down. They were both caught,
  condemned to penal servitude for life, and imprisoned in the
  Schlüsselburg fortress. Degàiev escaped to foreign parts, and
  afterwards disappeared.

I could not help laughing heartily: the assiduous friendliness of this
worthy, who, as a matter of fact, was always looking out for his own
advancement, appeared now in quite a new light. Apart from the fact that
(as I heard afterwards from the policemen in my cell) he drew a
considerable profit, not only from my food, but even on the books he got
me, he also had his eye on the reward he would receive if he could
induce me to confess to being Degàiev. The Russian Government had put a
price of 10,000 roubles on that man’s head, and his name was in every
European newspaper.

I stayed in this prison until nightfall, when I was fetched away by
three policemen in plain clothes. Every time that my guards were changed
I was searched, but nothing was found. Before starting on our journey,
the Frankfort police put chains on me, not heavy or thick, and quite
inconspicuous, as they were attached under my clothes; but they hindered
any quick movement, and of course made running impossible. I protested
vehemently against this indignity; but they declared they had received
special instructions, and had no choice in the matter, so I had to
submit. Even this was not their final precaution. When we passed on to
the railway platform, one man, a giant in stature, took me by the arm in
a friendly way; another went a few steps in front, and the third came a
little behind, so that we must have appeared to the uninitiated like a
trio of boon companions. We installed ourselves in a carriage among the
ordinary travellers, and it probably never dawned on any of them that
they were sitting cheek by jowl with a fettered prisoner. I could not
help thinking of the proverb used by our Russian peasants to describe
German ingenuity:—“The Germans are too clever for anything; they’ve even
invented apes!” I must say that my guardians behaved very civilly to me,
although with formal strictness. So far as their orders permitted, they
showed me many little kindnesses. In the _Begleitschein_ with which I
was given into their custody I was entered as “the so-called Bulìgin,”
and by this name I went until I was handed over to the Russians.

There was no thinking of escape on this journey. My escort never let me
out of their sight for a second, never stirred from my side, and watched
my slightest movements. They did not enter into conversation with me,
nor had I any inclination to gossip with them. I felt heavy at heart,
enervated, and exhausted. My mind seemed dormant, nothing attracted my
attention during the whole journey; I seemed to hear and see nothing
that went on around me, but to lie wrapped in a dreary apathy. “What
must be must be,” I said to myself, if a thought of the future arose.
Reaction had set in after the painful excitement of the last days in
Freiburg.

The following day we arrived in Berlin, where I was at once taken to
prison. Which prison it was I do not know, but I remember what a gloomy
impression it produced upon me. The dark cell, (into which no direct
light could penetrate owing to the high wall opposite the window,) and
the sour-faced warders, who never seemed to look one straight in the
eyes, forced on me the thought that people who were compelled to inhabit
this place for long were much to be pitied. I have made acquaintance
with many prisons, both in Russia and Western Europe, but never felt so
thoroughly despondent as in this Berlin gaol. Everything seemed intended
to make one feel: “You are in Berlin, the capital of military Prussia,
where inflexible rule and iron discipline are the watchwords applying to
the smallest detail.”

The policemen who had brought me from Frankfort never left me alone even
in my prison cell, keeping watch over me by turns. And I must say that I
was glad of this. Their company was not exactly enlivening, but the
presence of another human being mitigated the dreariness of the prison
atmosphere. Fortunately I was not detained here long, and I was truly
thankful when evening came, and I was once more on my travels, attended
by the same escort. Next morning we were in Russia.

The frontier station where I was to be delivered over to the Russian
authorities is called Granitza, a place where three empires
meet—Germany, Austria, and Russia. As I was to be taken straight on to
Petersburg, this was a very roundabout way to have come, and I suppose
it must have been chosen from fear of a rescue being attempted at the
frontier. This is the more likely, as shortly before the Polish
Socialist, Stanislas Mendelssohn, had—aided by his friends—escaped from
the Prussian police at another frontier station (Alexandrovo, I think),
just as his surrender to the Russians was to be effected. He got safe
through to Switzerland.

I remember my sensations well. It was a lovely May morning, and the
sunshine gave me renewed strength. I had scarcely descended from the
train with my German guards, when I was surrounded by a crowd of Russian
gendarmes.

“Good morning, Deutsch! good morning, sir! Here you are at last! We have
been expecting you for ever so long!” were their greetings. I saw round
me the fresh, smiling faces of young Russian peasant lads, surmounting
the hated dark blue uniform. Their free, familiar bearing made me smile
back at them as if old friends were welcoming me.

“How do you know me?” I asked them, as we went towards the gendarmes’
quarters.

“Oh, of course we know you; we’ve heard such a lot about you!” cried
several. “Will you come and have some tea at once, or brush the dust off
first?” they asked, and vied with each other in doing the agreeable and
making me at home. It was a curious contrast to the manners of my German
guards. The Russians were frank and simple; there was something of even
friendly confidence in their behaviour. To the German police I was a
dangerous criminal, who went about under false names. They had their
orders, and followed them rigidly, not troubling themselves with
anything beyond that, hoping thereby to gain a reward (as I gathered
from their whispered talk when they supposed me asleep). To the Russian
gendarmes,[22] who never have anything to do with common criminals, I
was a “political offender,” a “State prisoner” (as we call it), whose
name they had heard so often that they looked on me quite as an old
acquaintance. I had not been in Russia for four years, and the first
persons I met from whom I heard my mother tongue were gendarmes. The
reader will be able to understand my mingled feelings. Any uninitiated
person glancing into the room where I sat before the steaming samovar,
refreshing myself with tea, and gossiping with the gendarmes standing
round, might have thought we were a party of old friends enjoying a cosy
chat.

Footnote 22:

  See preface.—_Trans._

“Well, what’s it like in foreign parts?—not so nice as here, eh?” asked
the lads; and I related how in “foreign parts” it was ever so much nicer
than at home, in many ways. But that they would not allow to be
possible, and we disputed about it, till at last everyone present, ten
or twelve men, were all talking at once. When this topic was exhausted I
asked what was the news at home, what was happening? They then described
excitedly how all Russia had just been celebrating the majority of the
heir-apparent, the present Tsar.

The German police having fulfilled their commission and handed me over
with bag and baggage, had departed, probably somewhat disappointed, for
no reward had been given them—in Granitza, at least. After some hours an
officer of the gendarmerie appeared, and commanded some of the men to be
ready to escort me, as I was to go on by the next train. I saw that he
gave over to one of them the money that had been taken from me by the
German police. Unobserved, I immediately drew out the Russian money I
had concealed about me, and then handed it to the officer, for I feared
it might be discovered if I were carefully searched. He was greatly
surprised, and asked if I had never been searched in Germany. He then
ordered me to be searched again, which was done with every care; but all
the same, the rest of my German money and the scissors were not found.

Three gendarmes accompanied me on the journey to Petersburg. In Warsaw,
where we arrived during the night, a colonel of gendarmerie was awaiting
me. Like most of his kind, he was very polite and ready to converse.

“You were concerned in the Tchigirìn case?” he began; and when I
assented, he continued confidentially, “Ah, that was a long while ago.
Wasn’t it at the time of the Polish rising? Well, then, you will have
the benefit of the coronation amnesty; they won’t have much against
you.”

At the time of the Polish insurrection, in 1863, I was only eight years
old. This is an illustration of how much many of the officers of
gendarmerie know about the political trials which are supposed to be
their own special business. This friendly sympathy did not prevent him,
of course, from giving my escort the strictest orders about my
treatment, as I could hear when seated in the carriage. “Be sure you
don’t fall asleep!” he whispered. The gendarmes, however, did not allow
this to trouble their minds much, but continued to treat me in a very
easy-going fashion, and did not manifest any fear of my running away.

When we arrived in Petersburg a captain of gendarmerie met us, and took
me at once in a closed carriage to the Fortress of Peter and Paul.

[Illustration:

  FORTRESS OF PETER AND PAUL, ST. PETERSBURG
    To face page 48
]



                               CHAPTER VI
  THE FORTRESS OF PETER AND PAUL—THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR AS COMPATRIOT—A
              HARD-HEARTED DOCTOR—A FLEETING ACQUAINTANCE


A strange feeling came over me when I saw that I was being conveyed to
this prison, used by the Government of the Tsars for political offenders
only; a place never spoken of in Russia without a shudder. I approached
it with dark forebodings, but these gave place to interest. I knew well
that a cruel severity ruled in this place, but I could not help being
curious to experience it personally. The reality fully answered to my
expectations.

I was taken at once to a room where the governor of the prison, Colonel
Lesnik of the gendarmerie, ordered me to strip to the skin. A couple of
gendarmes examined me carefully, and then gave me, instead of my own
clothes, prison under-linen, a striped cotton gown, such as is worn in
hospitals, and a pair of slippers. My own clothes and other things were
taken away. I was then shut up in a cell on the ground floor.

Everything goes on here in utter silence; not a word is heard, the
stillness is intense. No one could imagine that men lived here year
after year; it felt like a house of the dead. Only the chimes of the
clock broke upon the ear, sounding out every quarter of an hour the
national hymn, “How glorious is our Lord in Zion!”

The cell was large, but dark, as the window was high up in the wall. It
was cold, despite the May weather, for the sunshine never entered here,
and the walls were damp. Besides the iron bedstead with its straw
mattress, pillow, and thin woollen covering, there were an iron table
and a stool, both chained to the wall, and the customary evil-smelling
tub. Even at three o’clock in the afternoon darkness reigned, although
at this season Petersburg enjoys its “bright nights,” when it never gets
really dark. Reading was not to be thought of. Above everything I was
sensible of the extreme cold, partly due to the situation of the cell,
but chiefly to the insufficiency of my clothing. To warm myself I
marched up and down from one corner to the other till I was tired; but
hardly had I sat down a minute than I began to freeze again all over.
Even in bed I felt the same penetrating cold, for the blanket was very
thin.

My rations consisted of about two pounds of black bread, and for dinner
at midday two dishes, which were not bad, but insufficient in
quantity—always half cold, moreover, as all the food had to be brought a
long way. As an unconvicted prisoner I could have provided myself with
better accommodation at my own expense; but that was impossible at
first, because the gendarmes who brought me had given over my luggage
and my money to the officer of gendarmerie, and he had delivered it to
the Central Department of the State Police. The worst of this was that
it meant the loss of my spectacles, and therefore I could not read,
another privilege to which I had a right, as an unconvicted prisoner.
This made the days, and the nights too, seem interminable. I did
everything I could think of to occupy myself. I tried arithmetical
problems, of course in my head, for writing materials were not allowed;
I related my own history as an exercise of memory; and at last I hit on
the plan of “publishing” a newspaper. When I had got through washing and
dressing in the morning, I ate a piece of bread, and then “read my
paper.” First came a leading article on some question of the day, then
the summary of news, gossip of the town, notes, etc. After some days, of
course, my “copy” began to run short, and the contents of my journal
became very uninteresting. The reading of it could not occupy the whole
day, and I was often, too, kept awake at night by the cold; so I filled
in my time by running up and down, up and down, like a beast in its
cage.

Outdoor exercise brought little relief from the eternal solitude; it was
only taken every other day, and lasted a very short while. The time
allowed was but a quarter of an hour, including dressing and undressing,
my own clothes being brought to me for these occasions. My walks took
place in a yard enclosed with high walls, where no one was to be seen
but gendarmes and sentries. The slightest attempt to converse with them
was forbidden, or even that they should answer the simplest question. If
one asked anything they stared straight in one’s face and were dumb.

After some days, however, an occupation provided itself; I became aware
of a gentle knocking, perceptible at a slight distance from the wall.
When I was in prison before I had learned to use this means of
communication with my fellow-captives, and the alphabetical code at once
came back to me.[23]

Footnote 23:

  The letters of the alphabet being arranged in certain groups, _e.g._:—

                               a b c d e f
                               g h i k l m
                               n o p r s t
                               u v w x y z,

  words are made up by knocking so many times on the wall for each
  letter. First the horizontal line in which the letter stands is
  counted, and then its number in the line. For example, to make the
  word “you” one would knock as follows: four taps, a short pause, five
  taps, a longer pause; three taps, a short pause, two taps, longer
  pause; four taps, short pause, one tap. The taps are not only heard in
  the neighbouring cell, but sometimes in far-distant ones if they have
  a common wall.

It is difficult to describe my joy when I heard the familiar sounds, and
supposed they must be addressed to myself, but I was soon undeceived. I
began to knock back, but found out at once that the signals were not
meant for me; two friends were having conversation, and they would not
answer my attempts to introduce myself. This knocking was strictly
forbidden, and they hesitated to admit an unknown person to their
company, fearing to be entrapped, and deprived of further intercourse. I
was obliged to content myself with making out what these two said to
each other in their short conversations, but it was only stereotyped,
often-recurring phrases: “Good morning,” “How have you slept?” “What are
you doing?” and the answers: “Well,” “Drinking tea,” etc. I envied them
the exchange of such insignificant speeches. I never discovered whether
they were two men or two women, or a man and a woman.

I do not know how long it was before I underwent my first examination,
it must have been about eight or ten days. Until then, from the first
moment I arrived in Russia, I had not officially been even asked my
name. Like a box or parcel coming from abroad, I had been passed on from
hand to hand with my official form of consignment, no one caring to
learn who I was. The gendarmes appeared to know that I had taken the
name of Bulìgin, being in reality Deutsch; but they had no idea with
what I was charged, and did not seem interested to find out. Besides, in
the Fortress of Peter and Paul names were not necessary—were even
useless—for one was never spoken to, intercourse was carried on by
gestures only.

One morning my clothes were brought me, as I supposed for the customary
walk, but I was led into a room where at a table covered with a blue
cloth sat three men dressed like functionaries of the law. I was given a
chair, and one of them informed me he was the examining magistrate “in
specially grave cases” at the Petersburg law courts. His own name was
Olshàninov, and he introduced one of his companions as the Public
Prosecutor, Mouraviev;[24] the name of the third he did not tell me.

Footnote 24:

  The present Minister of Justice (1902).

Then began the hearing of the case. To the usual questions concerning
name, etc., I answered the truth. I knew I had nothing now either to
lose or to gain. I told the whole story of the assault on Gorinòvitch,
of course not giving the name of any other person concerned, and not
attempting to excuse myself in the least. I knew I could injure no one
now by telling the whole affair, for all who were in any way connected
with it had been sentenced five years back; and as to myself, it could
make no difference, for by the terms of the extradition treaty between
Russia and Baden the conditions of my prosecution were strictly laid
down. In the interests of historical accuracy I considered it right that
this episode in our movement should be correctly described.

During the hearing, which was conducted by the magistrate, the official
whose name had not been mentioned addressed several questions to me. I
did not recognise him at first, but later it appeared that I had known
him at Kiëv, where—in 1877—he took part in my trial. His name was
Kotliarèvsky; he was then Deputy Public Prosecutor in Kiëv, and now
filled the same post at the Petersburg Appeal Courts, where he had to
conduct the political cases in particular. It will thus be seen that
this was the real owner of the position which Bogdanòvitch had falsely
claimed when pretending to identify me at Freiburg. Although
Kotliarèvsky was in very bad odour with the revolutionists, and had been
shot at by Ossìnsky in 1878, I was in a way glad to meet him in this
gloomy place, for, at any rate, his face was a familiar one. And he
behaved in a very friendly way to me. We were soon deep in conversation,
recounting our respective experiences since we had last met. That we
might not disturb the magistrate, who was making out the protocol, we
sat a little apart, and chatted quite comfortably. Kotliarèvsky remarked
that I had altered very much; “and not only in outward appearance, I
mean,” he said, “your whole character seems to me changed.” That might
well be. Kotliarèvsky was noted for keen observation, and this faculty
was very useful to him in his peculiar sphere.

“Do you remember what a hot-headed young fellow you were? How you once
nearly threw an ink-bottle at my head?”

I remembered the incident perfectly, and saw why he referred to it. When
I was at Kiëv I was in a high state of nervous excitability, and in
consequence was often hasty and irritable. Partly because of this, and
partly because I was a member of the “Buntari,” in whose programme was
included a continual warfare against all recognised authorities,
Kotliarèvsky and I once came to loggerheads. The point of dispute was
the signing of a protocol, which I absolutely refused to do. In a
towering passion I seized the ink-bottle, and was quite ready to hurl it
at him had he persisted in trying to force me; but he saw my intention,
and keeping quite composed, called the warder and whispered something to
him. Seeing the man hasten away, I thought he had gone for the guard to
put me in confinement. Great was my surprise and joy, therefore, when
after a few minutes the door opened, and my friend Stefanòvitch[25]
appeared on the threshold. It was a delight to us both, for although in
the same prison, we had not hitherto been allowed to meet.

Footnote 25:

  See pp. 15 and 98, note, p. 210, and portrait, p. 112.

“Will you kindly pacify your comrade?” said Kotliarèvsky, turning to
Stefanòvitch. “His nerves seem a little overstrained.”

I learned thus to appreciate the adroitness of this man, and thanked him
now for his considerate treatment of me on that occasion, which seemed
to gratify him.

In the course of our conversation I expressed my surprise that although
I had been surrendered by Germany as an ordinary criminal, only to be
proceeded against as such, they had brought me to the Fortress of Peter
and Paul, which everyone knows is reserved for “politicals.” “Neither do
I understand,” I added, “why I have been brought to Petersburg, when the
deed for which I am to answer was committed in Odessa, and according to
law the trial should take place there.”

Kotliarèvsky gave me no answer on this point, but he promised to see
about my being allowed to provide myself with more comforts from my own
purse, and said he would speak to Plehve,[26] the chief of the Central
Department of the State Police.

Footnote 26:

  The present Minister of the Interior.—_Trans._

Shortly after this Colonel Lesnik gave me a more comfortable cell on the
first floor, and henceforward he treated me somewhat better. Two days
later he told me that my money and luggage had arrived from the police
department, so I could now purchase food and tobacco. I congratulated
myself even more on getting my spectacles again; but it seemed that for
this I must have an order from the prison doctor, and he was sent to see
me. He was an elderly man of between sixty and seventy, and had the rank
of a general officer. He was well known to be of a very harsh and
unpleasant disposition, and soon gave me a proof of his quality. He
turned up my eyelids, fixed me with a forbidding glare, and declared
off-hand that my eyes were perfectly normal and that I did not need
glasses. In reality qualified oculists have diagnosed a rather unusual
abnormality in my vision, and since my eighteenth year I have been
obliged to use spectacles for reading.

This dictum of the prison doctor upset me cruelly; I felt so desperate
that I could scarcely control myself, but was ready to weep and to
curse.

“I beg you to consider again,” I cried. “You are quite mistaken; I
really cannot read without glasses. Think what you are doing; you are
condemning me to a hideous torture, in robbing me of the only
distraction allowed here.”

Nothing was of any avail; the man remained immovable, repeating
obstinately, “You do not need glasses,” and therewith took his
departure. I clenched my fists, a prey to impotent wrath, and nearly
broke down altogether. But what was I to do? I had to bear it; and it is
hard to say what a man cannot put up with. But to this moment I cannot
think of that doctor without my blood boiling. The only consolation left
me was my cigarette, and it became a friend and comforter in my
loneliness. To a captive smoking not merely gives pleasure, but takes
from him the sense of utter desolation.

The days passed on in miserable inactivity. Then one morning a sound
fell upon my ears, someone was knocking again, and in my immediate
neighbourhood, as it seemed. Was it for me? I replied at once with the
familiar signal. It was for me; what joy! Now I should know what
comrades lay here, and should be able to exchange thoughts with a human
being.

“Who are you?” “In what case are you concerned?” were the questions I
deciphered. I seized my comb, the only hard movable object to be found
in my prison cell, and tapped the answer. My interlocutor expressed his
surprise and asked, “How did you come here?” To my question, “Who are
you?” the answer was “Kobiliànsky.” I was no less surprised to “meet”
him here (if so one may express it). We had not previously known one
another personally, but I knew that in 1880 he had been condemned to
penal servitude for life, on account of his participation in various
terrorist affairs, and had long ago been deported to the Siberian mines
on the Kara. How came he, then, to be in the Fortress of Peter and Paul?
I burned with impatience to learn his adventures, but he was just as
anxious to hear mine, and I had to give way to him. Scarcely, however,
had I told him as shortly as possible how I had been arrested in Germany
and given up to Russia, when I was interrupted by a voice, “So you are
knocking?”

I sprang up and looked round. Before me stood Colonel Lesnik,
accompanied by some gendarmes. The door had been noiselessly opened; I
had been observed, and caught in the act; there was no getting out of
it.

“I give you fair warning, if you attempt such a thing again, you will be
put back on the ground-floor, and deprived of tobacco and of exercise.”
Thereupon he departed, and I felt like a naughty schoolboy, found out
and disgraced. Moreover, I had to give up hope of learning why
Kobiliànsky had been brought back from Siberia.[27]

Footnote 27:

  I learned the following particulars later. In May, 1882, some of the
  political prisoners at Kara escaped. They were soon recaptured, and
  horribly severe measures were then set on foot in their prison. It was
  resolved to send away the “most dangerous element.” Thirteen men were
  chosen, on any kind of pretext, only four of them having been
  concerned in the escape, and they were all despatched to the Fortress
  of Peter and Paul, and afterwards to Schlüsselburg, the special prison
  for politicals. There the harshest régime prevails, and no one who
  enters is ever set free again. Kobiliànsky shared this fate, although
  he had not been one of those who had broken loose from prison. Nearly
  all these unhappy men met their death in Schlüsselburg: among them
  Butzìnsky, Gèhlis, I. Ivànov, Kobiliànsky, Shturkòvsky, and
  Shtchedrin. Only one survives (1902)—Michael Popov.

Shortly after this event, one day my clothes were brought to me at an
unusual hour. I supposed there was going to be another hearing of my
case; but no, apparently I was to be taken right away. My luggage was
brought, and the captain of the gendarmerie appeared, the same who had
escorted me hither from the station.

“Where are we going—to Odessa?” The officer gave me no answer.

“Evidently we are going to the station,” I thought, when the captain and
I were seated in a droschky. It was just the transition hour on a
“bright night,” when one hardly knows whether it is evening twilight or
dawn. The weather was perfect, and I felt my spirits rise at the
prospect of the journey to Odessa. But alas! the carriage took another
turning, it was not going to the station, and we were soon in the
courtyard of a huge stone prison. It was the House of Detention for
prisoners under examination.



                              CHAPTER VII
 CHANGED CONDITIONS—A FRUSTRATED PLAN—THE MINISTER’S VISIT—A SECRET OF
                      STATE—MY LITERARY NEIGHBOUR


When the officer of gendarmerie handed me over to the governor of the
gaol, he pointed with his finger to a sentence in my charge-sheet,
whereupon the governor looked at me sharply. It was clear his attention
was being drawn to the warning of my former escapes, and the need for
strict surveillance.

I saw from the first that prison rules were less strict here. My
belongings, after examination, were brought into my cell. As soon as I
could look them over, I sought for the hidden money and scissors, and
behold, there they were! The careful scrutiny, both at the fortress and
here, had been no more successful in detecting them than had previous
examinations. The scissors I again concealed; but I wanted to change the
German notes, so as to have at any rate part of my money available, and
that was not a very simple matter. I began to observe the warders
carefully; there were three of them on my corridor. The man who had
searched my luggage seemed to me the most promising, and I determined to
bribe him. When he came on duty I took the money out of its
hiding-place, and called him into my cell.

“What do you want?” he asked, coming in and shutting the door behind
him.

“Did you search my luggage properly when I arrived here?”

“Yes, of course; is anything wrong?” he asked, quite alarmed.

“Oh, nothing much!” I said soothingly. “Only, I had better tell you that
you don’t know how to search. Look here! you never found these!” and I
held the bank-notes under his nose.

“Impossible!” he cried; “where were they hidden?”

“Well, that is my secret,” said I. “But listen! It is German money, and
if changed would come to about fifty roubles.[28] Take it, and when you
are off duty go to a money-changer—there are several on the Nevsky
Prospekt—and get it changed for Russian money. Half shall be yours, and
half mine. Is that agreed?”

Footnote 28:

  Nearly £5 10_s._—_Trans._

“All right. I’ll see to it,” he said, and went off with the money.

“He bites,” I thought to myself; and at once began building castles in
the air. I knew from experience that the great thing was to establish
communication with the outer world, and this we revolutionists had often
effected by bribing warders to take letters into and out of prison. In
Kiëv and the south we called such warders “carrier-pigeons.” When I saw
how easily this one fell in with my proposal, I immediately began to
plan out further steps.

“After a few days,” I said to myself, “we will try him with a letter for
the post; and next I shall send him to someone I know with a commission.
When once things are in train, who knows? something may come of it.”

It was in the morning that I had given the warder my money, and I was in
great excitement all day. Several times he looked through the peephole
in my door, smiled and nodded at me, and of course I replied in similar
fashion. Towards evening he came into my cell again, and laid my notes
down on the table. “Take them back,” he said; “I am afraid of getting
into trouble. See here; a little while ago one of the others had two
watches given him, and they were found on him, and he was dismissed. You
see, I’ve a good place here, and get twenty-five roubles[29] a month. I
shouldn’t get so much again in a hurry. No, I’m afraid; take it back!”

Footnote 29:

  About £2 5_s._—_Trans._

Of course I did not press him, for I knew that without courage he would
never make a “carrier-pigeon.” I saw no chance now of changing the notes
secretly, so I told him to take them to the governor, that they might be
added to the rest of my money.

“Tell him you found them in searching my luggage.”

“No, no, that won’t do. There would be no end of a fuss because I hadn’t
given them up directly. I’d rather tell the truth, and say you had just
given them to me.”

Thus did my visions end in smoke. The money was taken charge of, and no
further inquiry made.

Soon after this my books were brought to me, and I could also use the
prison library. After being for so long prevented from reading, this was
a great boon; and as writing materials were also allowed me, I was
altogether far better off here than in the Fortress of Peter and Paul.
Still, the little cell with its stone floor became a perfect oven in the
heat of summer, most unpleasantly stuffy and dusty; and the food was
inferior both in quantity and quality. But the walks were what was most
disagreeable. Imagine a huge circle, divided into sections by partitions
running from centre to circumference. In these cattle-pens we were
allowed to disport ourselves singly, carefully watched all the while by
warders stationed on a raised platform at the centre of the circle,
commanding all the “cattle-pens”; so that the prisoners had no chance of
communicating with each other. One could see nothing but the wooden
partitions, the back of the prison buildings, and a narrow strip of sky;
but every day we had to breathe the air here for three-quarters of an
hour, which seemed an endless time for such “recreation.”

In comparison with the uncanny stillness of the fortress, things here
seemed full of life and bustle. The windows of the corridor looked into
the street, and its noises could be heard in the cells—the rumbling of
carriages, the cries of street-hawkers, or the dulcet music of an
organ-grinder. One felt so near freedom that the burden of prison life
was the heavier.

One day I heard unusually lively sounds in the corridor—scrubbing,
sweeping, and a general tidying-up. Some important visit seemed to be
expected, and I soon learned that the Minister of Justice, Nabòkov, was
coming to inspect the prison. Shortly after, he appeared in my cell,
accompanied by a numerous suite; and when my name was pronounced, he
greeted me and said—

“I have read your deposition, and was much pleased with its frankness. I
hope you will speak out in the same way before the court.”

I replied that, as I have already said, it was my object to state the
exact historical truth.

He went, but came back again, and put one or two unimportant questions
to me, looking, however, as though there were something else he would
have liked to say. He bent forward a little in speaking, and held his
hand to his ear. His whole bearing was simple and unaffected.

Kotliarèvsky was among the suite. He remained behind a moment, and told
me he wanted to speak to me when the minister had gone. Some time after
I was taken to him in a room that served as the prison schoolroom.

“I am not here on business,” said he, “but I should like to have a chat
with you about old times.”

So we sat down on a school-form and talked. Following a remark of mine,
Kotliarèvsky touched on the question I had raised before as to the
reason for my confinement in the Fortress of Peter and Paul.

“Why, you see, there were very important interests of State to
consider,” he said. “It was like this: if you were brought before an
ordinary tribunal and only prosecuted on the Gorinòvitch count, you
might be merely condemned to seven or eight years in Siberia; and that
would not be agreeable in _high quarters_.” He accented the last words.

“But they cannot try me otherwise,” I cried. “Germany only extradited me
on that stipulation.”

“Well, that remains to be seen,” said he. “We are at present on very
good terms with Bismarck, and he would not mind at all giving us this
little proof of his friendship. Or, if necessary, it could easily be
made out that you had committed some offence _after_ your extradition.
Which reminds me—the Germans have sent us on all the notes that you made
in Freiburg gaol.”

I was utterly astonished. I remembered that from sheer ennui I had now
and then written down odds and ends of notes, plans, etc., while I was
at Freiburg, but I could not conceive how those scraps could have come
into the hands of the Russian Government, for I had destroyed all my
manuscripts before leaving. I could only suppose that when I was out of
my cell for exercise some single sheets might have been abstracted. Even
then it seemed impossible that they could afford any foundation for a
fresh accusation sufficient to set aside the extradition treaty with
Germany. But Kotliarèvsky reassured me on that head.

“Oh, never fear! they would soon manage that. Nothing would be easier
than to get Germany’s consent, and then they would sentence you
according to your deserts. People who have had far less against them
than you—Malìnka, Drebyàsgin, Maidànsky—have long ago been executed. And
you—you broke out of prison just when you were at last to be brought up
for judgment in the Gorinòvitch case. Then for quite eight years you
were engaged in conspiracies; and then you were the instigator, along
with Stefanòvitch, of the Tchigirìn affair, and so on, and so on. That
all this should only let you in for a few years’ hard labour did not at
all suit the views of Government. So when you were extradited a special
council was held in _high circles_. Of course, I was not there. I am not
numbered among the elect; but this is what I have been told. At first
they were all unanimous in declaring that a modification of the
extradition treaty must be arranged, so that you might be brought before
a special tribunal. Then, as you can easily imagine, they would have
made short work with you! But one of these great personages had a qualm,
and he urged, ‘Germany might fall in with our views. Well and good! But
is that really a good precedent? They have caught Deutsch for us now.
To-morrow a still more important capture might be made in some other
country, and then it might be hard for us to get an extradition. The
Press would make a hubbub; they would say, Russia never respects
treaties, and would point to the case of Deutsch as an example.’ This
consideration influenced the majority, and it was consequently resolved
to proceed against you in the Gorinòvitch case only. This is why you
were put into the Fortress of Peter and Paul until a decision was
arrived at.”

It is quite possible that Kotliarèvsky betrayed this secret of state to
me with the object of loosening my tongue; but perhaps he really had no
afterthought, and told tales out of school just for the joke of it.

In the further course of our conversation he touched on many subjects,
among others on political prosecutions in Russia. I remarked to him how
often perfectly harmless persons were condemned to fearful punishments.

“What would you have?” he replied. “When trees are felled there must be
chips. As the ancient Romans said: ‘_Summum jus, summa injuria_.’
Personally I do not approve of capital punishment at all. I say to
myself that in a great state political offences are inevitable. With a
population of many millions there must always be a few thousand
malcontents, and, of course, examples must be made of any disturbers of
the peace. But a strong Government ought to be able to render them
innocuous without resorting to the death penalty.”

In pursuance of this theme, he then asked me, to all appearance
casually, how many Terrorists in my opinion there might be in Russia. I
answered that I knew nothing at all about it, for I myself did not now
belong to the Terrorists, but to the Social-Democratic party.

“Oh yes,” he said, “but as a ‘friendly power’ you must be able to judge
as to the strength of the terrorist organisation. I think myself their
numbers must be very small now.”

In point of fact there were indeed very few active Terrorists left in
Russia. I did not, however, wish to strengthen Kotliarèvsky’s opinion
about the “friendly powers,” so told him that according to my estimate
there could be only a few thousand, not more.

“How can you make that out?” he asked. “It is quite impossible; I reckon
at most some hundreds. They have been imprisoned in crowds just lately.”

I persisted in my opinion, and therewith we separated.

At this time, _i.e._ in the summer of 1881, there were in this House of
Detention a number of prisoners accused of different political offences.
One of these so-called offences, on account of which numberless persons
had been sent to prison in Petersburg, Moscow, and many smaller towns,
or even in Siberia, was what Kotliarèvsky called “the old clothes case.”
He gave me the following account of this highly important affair of
state. In some domiciliary visit the police had found a note containing
the names of persons who were assisting the political prisoners by
providing them with clothes and other necessaries. Thereupon a number of
these persons were arrested; and he told me that an imposing case was
being trumped up against this “secret society,” under the name of the
“Red Cross League of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_.” (Of course, Kotliarèvsky
did not mind giving a sly hit at the gendarmerie, with whom the police
officials have many little tiffs, each often putting a spoke in the
other’s wheel.)

A pretty conspiracy indeed—for providing prisoners with old clothes! I
shall hereafter always allude to this case as the “old clothes affair,”
and hope to show by it some of the little peculiarities of
“administrative methods” in Russia. These “administrative methods” are
sometimes extremely unpleasant for those treated by them. The
gendarmerie can imprison people, and exile them to Siberia or the
outlying provinces without trial, all by “administrative methods.”

Besides those implicated in the “old clothes affair,” there were at this
time in the gaol many prisoners involved in other cases, among them
several well-known literary men—Protopòpov, Krivènko, Stanyukòvitch, and
Erthel. The first-named was my neighbour, and we were soon knocking to
one another, though not without some misunderstanding at the outset.
Directly I told him my name he left off replying to my taps, I could not
imagine why. Several days passed. I could hear him going up and down in
his cell, could catch his voice when he spoke to the warder, but he left
all my signals unanswered; so concluding that he was afraid of being
caught (though the officials of this prison did not seem to make much
fuss over the knocking), I left off in despair. After a little, however,
he began again. “Why do you hide your name from me?” he asked. I replied
that I had told him my name at the very beginning, and repeated it; upon
which he hastened to apologise: “I took you for a spy; for I could not
make out what you said, and thought you seemed to be knocking confusedly
on purpose, so that I might not decipher the name.”

We now conversed together freely. Our names were well known to each
other, and we had many common friends. Of course, we were very anxious
to know one another by sight, and we accomplished this in the following
manner. From the windows of our cells, which were on the fifth floor, we
could see into the “cattle-pens”; and though we were all supposed to
take our exercise at the same time, we arranged together that each
should manage to get out of it on different days, and that he who
remained in his cell should recognise the other by a preconcerted
signal. The next thing was to know one another’s voice, and this also we
succeeded in effecting. We knew that in this prison, “politicals,” in
the “Case of the 193,” not only spoke together, but even conveyed small
objects to one another, by means of the water-closet pipes. The sanitary
system here was so arranged that on all the six storeys each pair of
cells was in communication, not only with one another, but also with
those immediately above and below. Thus twelve prisoners could arrange
together that they should simultaneously let the water run, so making a
space in the pipes that acted as a speaking-tube; and if one spoke into
the opening the voice could be heard perfectly in the connected cells,
while the running water prevented any inconvenient odour. In this
fashion we instituted a club of twelve members.



                              CHAPTER VIII
FRESH FEARS—THE COLONEL OF GENDARMERIE—INQUIRY INTO THE CASE OF GENERAL
         MEZENTZEV’S MURDER—MEETING WITH BOGDANOVITCH—DEPARTURE


During my imprisonment in the Petersburg House of Detention my spirits
were altogether more cheerful than they had been since my first arrest.
At Freiburg I had been in a chronic state of excitement and unrest,
longing for the freedom that seemed so near. In the Fortress of Peter
and Paul I had been downcast and despairing. Now I had reached a
condition of equanimity and indifference.

“Hard labour in the Siberian mines,” I thought to myself. “What does it
matter whether it be for ten years or fifteen? It is much the same to
me.” My future was done for, my life gone. It is hard for a man to
reconcile himself to such a thought, particularly when he feels
physically sound and healthy, but one does somehow get accustomed to it.
At times there will arise sudden hopes, dreams of unexpected luck, of
happiness in a distant future; and then wild visions chase one another
in dazzling pictures through one’s brain. But I had lived through too
many bitter self-deceptions of the kind when I was at Freiburg; and I
was only annoyed with myself when I found my fancy dallying with them,
and tried to extinguish them at once. “Nonsense!” I cried to myself; “if
anything, the only unexpected turn Fate will do you will be some bad
trick.” And I steadfastly made up my mind to the worst.

Weeks had gone by since my change of prisons, and during that time I had
not been once up for examination. I did not know in the least how my
affair was going. “Perhaps in ‘high circles’ they’ve taken a new
departure, and invented some other means of treating me as a political
criminal. Why am I not brought before the court? Why do they not send me
to Odessa? Something must be happening.” I had begun to fidget in this
way occasionally, when one July morning, as I came back from my walk
feeling rather cheerful, the warder said to me, “Make yourself ready;
they have come to fetch you!” A hired droschky awaited me at the door,
and I and a gendarme got into it. From him I could learn nothing as to
our destination, and although this uncertainty did not last long, it
made me feel uncomfortably nervous. After about half an hour the
carriage stopped in the courtyard of a large building. I was taken into
a small cell with a tiny window, whose panes were of thick ribbed glass.
As I was pacing up and down here I noticed an officer at the peephole in
the door observing me closely.

“May I come in?” he asked, hesitatingly opening the peephole window.

“A strange question! I am at your disposal, not you at mine,” said I.
The door opened, and smiling apologetically, a young man in the uniform
of a colonel of gendarmerie stepped in.

“Allow me to introduce myself”—he bowed and clicked his spurs
together—“Colonel Ivànov.”

“I do not understand,” said I. “Will you please tell me where I am, and
why I have been brought here?”

“This is the office of the gendarmerie headquarters; you have been
brought here for examination, and will soon be taken before the Public
Prosecutor. I only wanted to have a chat with you, and revive some old
memories. We have many common acquaintances.”

“But how do you know me?” I asked, surprised.

“Oh, excuse me,” he cried, smiling, “there is hardly an intelligent
person in all Russia who does not know you by name.”

The young gentleman appeared to class himself among the
“intellectuals”—that set in Russian Society which just at this time was
protesting against the reactionary tendency and making its influence
felt in some of the best Russian journals. In the language of that
section of the Press it was customary to designate the revolutionists by
the harmless title of “intellectuals.”

“Oh, we have many common acquaintances,” the colonel resumed. “I knew
all your comrades—Malinka, Drebyàsghin, Maidànsky. I was formerly
adjutant of gendarmerie at Odessa, and made acquaintance with them
there. They were really delightful people.”

Now I understood why this man was a colonel already, notwithstanding his
youth. The big political cases during the end of the seventies and
beginning of the eighties had given many officers of gendarmerie and of
the law grand opportunities for self-advancement. The lives and freedom
of the “politicals” were the merchandise by which they founded their
fortunes. This gentleman had no doubt played no insignificant part in
condemning to penal servitude or to death those comrades of mine on whom
he was now lavishing his compliments. Perhaps he had been the originator
of the happy thought by which the traitor Kùritzin was induced to
sacrifice so many victims.[30]

Footnote 30:

  Kùritzin was arrested in consequence of the attempt upon Gorinòvitch,
  and turned traitor unknown to his former comrades. He was shut up in a
  cell with the other prisoners, so that he might spy upon them; and
  through his information some of them were sent to the mines in
  Siberia, and many others delivered into the clutches of the law. I
  believe that he himself is now practising somewhere as a veterinary
  surgeon.

My interview with this engaging young man was not exactly to my mind,
and I was glad to be called away. I was taken to a comfortably furnished
apartment, where Kotliarèvsky was seated in an armchair before a large
table, looking over some papers.

“I have some documents here that concern you,” he said, and began to
read aloud:—

“In the beginning of August, 1878, the widow of the murdered Baron
Gèhkin, adjutant in the gendarmerie, observed in the neighbourhood of
General Mèzentzev’s house two young men who were apparently watching for
the General.” The document went on to state that the Baroness had
recognised one of these young men to be myself; and on the following day
she had seen them again on the watch, her cousin Baron Berg being with
her at the time. Then followed a paper in which Baron Berg corroborated
the lady’s evidence. There was a time, 1878-9, when a good many people
delighted in romancing about me, and persisted in ascribing to me a
prominent rôle in events taking place in the most widely separated parts
of Russia. These imaginings even found their way into the press, and I
was often surprised to read in the papers accounts of my varied
exploits; I seemed to be a perfect Stenka Rasìn![31]

Footnote 31:

  A noted Cossack chieftain of the seventeenth century, who has become a
  hero of Russian popular romance.—_Trans._

I remember, for example, that on May 25th, 1878, when I was still in
prison at Kiëv, a rich lady of that place was murdered, evidently by
thieves. Baron Gèhkin was shot on the following night, May 26th; and on
the night _after_ that, May 27th, I and two comrades escaped from
prison. I soon saw in the newspapers that, according to the opinion of
many astute persons, the author of both these murders could be none
other than myself!

The evidence as to my being concerned in the death of General Mèzentzev
was in the same way complete nonsense. When Kotliarèvsky had read me the
documents, he asked me what I had to say about them.

“It appears that the Government has not given up the attempt to
implicate me in affairs not specified in the extradition treaty,” I
said; “I shall therefore refuse to answer questions relating to any
outside matter.”

“Well, if you refuse to give evidence, we will leave it alone,” said
Kotliarèvsky, with perfect composure, and he clapped the papers together
again. “Besides, I may as well tell you that I attach no importance to
the testimony of these good people. So far as I can make out, you had
already gone abroad when Mèzentzev was murdered?”

I assented. He seemed, nevertheless, to want to draw me out on this
subject; but as I did not assist his endeavours in that direction he
began to chat about indifferent matters, asking me questions as to our
Socialist propaganda and our views. When, however, I quoted from some of
our writings, he confessed that they were quite unknown to him.

While we were talking, Bogdanòvitch came in from a neighbouring room. My
readers will remember him as the gentleman who had been by way of
identifying me at Freiburg. He greeted me, and sat down at the table. We
met without any sign of ill-feeling or recollection of the sharp
passage-at-arms we had had together.

“I wish you would tell me,” I said to him, “as it is now a thing of the
past, when did you see me in Kiëv? I have no remembrance of you.”

He replied, laughing, that he had seen me once in prison; but I saw at
once that he was bluffing. Evidently he had recognised me at Freiburg
merely from Kotliarèvsky’s description. I was curious to know when
exactly the Baden authorities had found out with whom they were dealing;
and when I asked him this, Bogdanòvitch replied, “They knew some weeks
before the extradition that you could not be Bulìgin, and then you were
put under stricter supervision, with a guard before the prison. About
ten days before my arrival they were informed that you were
Deutsch.”[32]

Footnote 32:

  While these pages are in the press comes the news (May, 1903) of
  Bogdanòvitch’s assassination. Having risen to be Governor of Ufa, he
  had suppressed in a very brutal manner a strike at Zlatoust. Shortly
  afterwards he was shot in a public park, and his assailants
  escaped.—_Trans._

It was now clear to me why I had been moved into a different cell, and
also why Herr von Berg had forbidden me to speak Russian with my
visitors.

As I was going away, to be taken back to the House of Detention, I asked
Kotliarèvsky whether I should soon be brought before a fully qualified
tribunal. He could give me no decided answer, and himself seemed
surprised at my being kept in Petersburg so long.

This was the last time I saw Kotliarèvsky. I learned afterwards in
Siberia, from comrades arriving there, that though he had dealt fairly
by me, his conduct of some political trials had been considered
altogether too mean; it not only drew down on him the bitter hatred of
the accused, but was too much even for his superiors, and he was
withdrawn from the cases. About three years ago he was President of the
Courts at Vilna; where he is now (1902) I do not know.

This interview convinced me still further that the Government would not
be content to restrict themselves to prosecuting me in the Gorinòvitch
case. Every morning I awoke wondering what would happen next; but day
after day went by without anything fresh. July came, then August, and I
was still waiting in my cell. One day towards the end of August
gendarmes again came for me, and I was ordered to prepare for a journey;
it had at last been decided to send me to Odessa. While the carriage
conveyed me through the streets I sadly took leave of my beloved
Petersburg, which I could never hope to see again.



                               CHAPTER IX
 A RAY OF HOPE—AN UNHEARD-OF RÉGIME—THE HUNGER-STRIKE—OUR CLUB—A SECRET
                                  ALLY


My removal to Odessa went off without any noteworthy incident. The
change of scene, the railway journey, the sight of people, their doings,
their speech, all had a reviving effect on me; but the company of three
gendarmes did not allow me to forget for an instant that I was a
prisoner on my way to judgment. The idea of escape, however, never left
me, and once at least circumstances seemed favourable. It was night; we
were already nearing Odessa. I had been dozing, and when I awoke I saw
that all three gendarmes were fast asleep. My heart began to thump
wildly, and my plan was made in an instant: to get my scissors out of
their hiding-place, cut off my beard, stride over the sleeping
gendarmes, step out on to the footboard of the train, and jump off. But
as this flashed through my mind, one gendarme opened his eyes, waked the
others by shaking them violently, and scolded them with a most
self-righteous air for not keeping guard. I feigned sleep, and the scene
was over.

In Odessa a prison van with barred windows awaited me. I was taken at
first to a prison for political offenders, under the rule of the
gendarmerie. While my belongings were being searched, the scissors
suddenly fell on the floor, to the no small astonishment of the warder,
a former gendarme.

“Nice order they keep in Petersburg! Prisoners are allowed to have
scissors there!” he exclaimed. He imagined I had brought them openly in
my luggage, and of course I left him in his pride at being cleverer than
his colleagues in the capital.

In this prison conditions were very much like those in the Fortress of
Peter and Paul: rather large, dark cells, tolerably good food, the same
strict, formal bearing of the gendarmes, and the same all-pervading
silence. In order at once to draw attention to the stipulations of the
extradition treaty, I expressed my astonishment at being again put into
a prison for “politicals.” Whether on account of this protest or because
of an order from Petersburg I do not know, but after a few days I was
removed to the prison for ordinary criminals.

It was evening, an evening that I shall never forget. They put me into a
cell, and when the door closed behind me I could at first see nothing,
the cell was so dark, and only the feeble rays of a lamp shone through a
little window in the door. When my eyes had begun to accustom themselves
to the dimness I set to work to take stock of my quarters. The cell was
circular, and contained no bed, chair, nor table; only the customary
wooden tub, a water-bucket, also of wood, and some straw on the
floor—nothing else. I was much surprised, and thought there must have
been some mistake. I went to the door, and saw through the peephole that
two armed soldiers were on guard, while on a bench close by sat a
gendarme and a policeman. I had been in many prisons, but this state of
things was new to me.

“Look here! What is all this? Where are the bedstead and mattress?” I
asked, sticking my head through the little window.

“Don’t know,” said the gendarme briefly.

“Then call the governor!”

He did not stir, but after a while the deputy-governor appeared.

“Will you tell me what this means?” I said, indicating the state of the
cell.

“I know nothing about it,” replied he. “We have simply followed
instructions. You must apply to the Deputy Public Prosecutor, who will
be here to-morrow.”

I felt horribly cast down. “What shall I do if they refuse to improve
things?” I thought, sitting down in the straw with my head in my hands.
Soon fatigue overpowered me, and I lay down; but hardly had I gone to
sleep when I sprang up broad awake—mice were scratching and burrowing in
the straw! I paced up and down the tiny cell, feeling how stifling the
atmosphere was. The tub stank vilely; the space outside where the four
watchers were was small, and only used-up air penetrated thence into the
cell. I wished I could effect some ventilation, but the window was high
up and could not be opened. I awaited the day with impatience, hoping I
should at least be able to breathe some fresh air. Wearily the hours
dragged along; sometimes I had to lie down for a moment’s rest, but only
to spring up again because of the mice. At last day dawned.

“Take me to the air!” I cried to the gendarme, who seemed here to act as
warder.

“I have no orders to do so,” was his reply.

Towards midday the Deputy Public Prosecutor arrived. I explained to him
the horrible conditions to which I had been subjected, and demanded
redress.

He listened to me, but assured me he could do nothing whatever.

“But tell me what hinders you from giving me a bedstead?”

“You could climb up to the window and try to escape.”

“Excuse me,” said I, “do consider what you say. Four men are watching
me; even if I stood on the bed I could not reach the window without
their seeing me. This is the fifth floor, and a sentry goes backwards
and forwards below the window; if I could pass him I should next have to
climb over a wall as high as a house, on the further side of which
another sentry is posted! Surely you must see,” I urged, “that under
these circumstances any attempt at flight is out of the question.”

“Who can tell? You have often got away before.”

“Only twice,” I corrected.

“Well, that’s quite enough,” said he. “I can’t do anything for you.” And
he went away.

I had already made up my mind what to do now. On no account would I put
up with this treatment, but would maintain a passive resistance.

The gendarme brought my food in a wooden vessel and placed it on the
floor.

“Take it away! I shall not eat anything,” I said.

He took it up again and withdrew in silence.

This was repeated every day at meal-times. The hours dragged on. I could
get no fresh air, could not read, as they would give me no books, could
not even sleep for the mice. I did not feel any great craving for food,
but drank water continually. In mind I suffered frightfully, not that I
felt any anger against these people, but I was irritated beyond measure
at the utter senselessness of such treatment.

“You will have time enough,” I apostrophised the staff, “to poison life
for me after I am once sentenced; but for the present I am only on
trial.”

For three days I went without food, and nobody seemed to trouble
themselves about it, though, of course, the attendants knew what was
going on. On the afternoon of the fourth day I was taken to the office.
Unwashed (I had purposely abstained from washing ever since my arrival),
my clothes covered with dust and bits of straw, I appeared before the
Public Prosecutor of Odessa and the examining magistrate. They informed
me they were there for the preliminary inquiry into my case, and would
take my evidence. I told them I was in no condition to answer questions,
and set forth my grievances, saying that I intended to starve myself as
a protest.

“Oh, you refuse to take your food? Well, then, we shall have to feed you
by artificial means.”[33]

Footnote 33:

  Not long before this some political prisoners had got up a
  “hunger-strike” as a protest against unjust treatment; and the
  authorities becoming alarmed at their condition of weakness, the
  prison doctor, Dr. Rosen, had forcibly administered nourishment by
  means of the enema.

As I knew what he meant, I replied promptly, “Try it, then! But I warn
you that if you do, I know of a way to bring on sickness and
diarrhœa, and it will simply hasten my end.” Of course, I did not
know anything of the kind, but thought this piece of bluff might ward
off the fulfilment of the Prosecutor’s threat.

He looked sharply at me, and threw a meaning glance at the magistrate,
as if to say, “The devil only knows what this fellow mayn’t be up to!
He’s an old hand, and knows all the tricks of the trade.”

For a moment they were both silent. I saw that my words had taken
effect, and began to dilate on their folly in treating me as they were
doing.

“You must allow,” I said, “that all this is scarcely reasonable. The
Government treats with Germany for my extradition, an important official
travels to Baden on that account, you make no end of a fuss before the
eyes of all Europe; and when, after setting all this machinery of the
State to work, you have at last got hold of me, you can’t bring the
accused to justice, because you have driven him to commit suicide! And
all on account of such mere trifles to you as a bed and a few other
necessaries! You must see how out of proportion the whole thing is.”

“Well, I’ll go and see for myself how they have provided for you,” said
the Public Prosecutor, and went off.

When he returned he seemed in some excitement: “Well, it’s perfectly
true,” he exclaimed, “they have used you shamefully! I assure you it is
no fault of mine. Three persons have united against you—the colonel of
the gendarmerie, the governor of the town, who controls the police, and
the commandant of the military garrison. Before your transference to
this prison they all three came here, settled all the arrangements, gave
their orders, and sent subordinates from their own departments to keep
guard over you. Unfortunately I cannot overrule these arrangements on my
own responsibility, but I will apply personally to the authorities
concerned; and all I can do in the meantime is privately to advise the
governor of the gaol to consult your wishes as far as possible.”

Thereupon the governor was called in, and the Public Prosecutor repeated
this to him in my presence. We then concluded a sort of compromise. A
proper bed was brought into my cell for the night, my books were given
to me, and a table and writing-things for the daytime. All these things
had to be taken away again if any officials were coming round who might
report the matter. That I might get a little fresh air the governor
arranged for me to take exercise in an outer courtyard where the other
prisoners could not see me. Upon these conditions I consented not to
prolong my “hunger-strike,” and that evening I partook of some food. It
was only when I began to eat that I realised how fearfully hungry I was.
I could have devoured an ox; but knowing that in such cases care is
advisable, I put a curb on my appetite. During the two following days I
felt very seedy, as though I had had a bad illness, and my attendants
treated me rather like a convalescent; the governor and the
deputy-governor inquired frequently after my health; even the gruff
gendarme made himself agreeable, and went to the kitchen to buy me food
and simple dainties.

The morning after this I went for exercise, accompanied by my four
guardians. The yard set apart for me was a space between the prison
building and the surrounding wall. The soldiers posted themselves at a
little distance from each other, standing at attention, while I strolled
up and down the space between them, closely attended by the gendarme and
the policeman. It was heavenly weather, the clear, mild autumn of the
South. As my guardians seemed equally to appreciate the spell of freedom
after the narrow, close corridor, our walks lasted longer and longer. I
attempted on these occasions to get into more friendly relations with
the gendarme, who, besides being stiffened by severe discipline, was
naturally of a gloomy, morose turn of mind. When we were walking up and
down, especially if the policeman were temporarily absent, I tried to
engage him in conversation, and asked him questions on indifferent
subjects. This man had been selected from among many others as the most
trusty, zealous, and incorruptible. I must explain that as he had no
substitute during his watch over me (which lasted two or three months),
he was supposed to be never off duty, but to spend his entire time in
the corridor outside my door, to eat there, and to sleep there as well
as he could. To my knowledge he never once changed his clothes! The
policeman, on the other hand, only remained twenty-four hours at a time
on duty, being then relieved by another member of his force; and the two
soldiers were changed every two hours, from the regular military guard
which is attached to every Russian prison.

As I was saying, I tried to get the gendarme to talk to me during my
exercise, and after a while I found out his weak side, and that even he
had not a heart of stone. He had an enormous family; and it was very
grievous to him that as he had received strict orders not to take his
eyes off me for a second, he could never get away to visit his home. He
at last contrived to move the governor to stand by him, and let him off
for an hour now and then, without his superiors knowing of it. These
secret visits of the gendarme to his wife and children led to a tacit
understanding between him and me, and brought us more together. He could
not help letting out complaints now and then about the severe discipline
that kept him away from his family; and as I listened with much
sympathy, he presently began to talk about the service, and his hard
work. He related to me how he had helped to get hold of Socialists in
various ways.

“My chief once ordered me,” he said, “to keep an eye privately on one of
the _specialist_ ladies” (unfamiliar words were rather a stumbling-block
to him, and _socialist_ was always _specialist_ in his vocabulary). “Oh,
she was a oner! Clever and cute, and could lead us all by the nose. Vera
Figner[34] was her name. A real beauty she was, and must have been well
brought up, and associated generally with the officers’ families. Well,
I dressed up in private clothes and followed her secretly wherever she
went. If she took a carriage, I got into a droschky and went after her.
If she went into a house, I took down the address, and asked the
_concierge_ who it was the fair lady had visited; so I got to know
pretty well who her friends were. I followed her like this for three
days. Suddenly she disappeared; I couldn’t find her anywhere; she might
have sunk into the ground. I tell you I did feel a fool! They say she
went to Khàrkov, and that in the end she was caught.”[35]

Footnote 34:

  See portrait, p. 112.

Footnote 35:

  Vera Figner was arrested in Khàrkov during February, 1883, the
  informer Merkúlov having pointed her out in the street to the police.
  I shall have more to say about her later (see chap. xiii.).

This zealous gendarme, who had dogged the footsteps of the “specialists”
with such zest, became in the end quite confidential with me, especially
when I told him I would give him this and that little thing as souvenirs
when my fate was finally decided. From him I learned the details about
the watch that was being kept over me. He confided to me, among other
things, that the governor of the town, the commandant of the garrison,
and the colonel of the gendarmerie had come to look at me during the
first days of my imprisonment here; had spied at me through the peephole
without my being aware of it, and had strictly ordered that I was not to
be told.

By degrees the days grew shorter, and I did not know how to pass the
time during the long evenings, for I had no light. Often I ran up and
down in my cell for hours together, till I was tired out. Sometimes I
would station myself at the door, and listen to the conversation of my
attendants. The policemen were the most entertaining; they relieved one
another every twenty-four hours, and as it was only a few of the most
trustworthy men in the force who took turns in this watch over me, I
soon got to know them all. It was from them that the gendarme and
I—almost equally prisoners—heard all the news, the gossip of the town,
and so forth. Occasionally one of them would smuggle in a newspaper,
which would then be read aloud in the select little club we formed. I
would stick my hand with the paper in it through the peephole, so as to
get some light, press my face against the opening, and read aloud to the
others. The two soldiers would stand at ease beside the door, listening
eagerly, while a few steps further off the policeman and the gendarme
sat on their bench. If we had no newspaper, nor any special subject for
talk, the policemen would tell tales of witches, demons, or the devil,
to which the honourable members of the “club” listened with perhaps
almost greater interest than to my political readings and disquisitions.

In this way I learned from time to time what was going on in the world,
despite the attempts of three high functionaries to prevent (as the
governor of the gaol phrased it) even a fly getting into my cell.
Moreover, I managed besides to get news that is not to be found in
Russian journals, namely, accounts of events in revolutionary Russia. A
man filling a rather high official position, a well-wisher to our cause,
helped me to this. I owe much to him; but as I do not know whether he be
still living or not, I dare not give his name, nor particulars of my
relations with him, for fear of harm ensuing to himself. It is our rule
never to speak fully about noble deeds done on behalf of revolutionists
or the revolutionary movement unless the doers are either dead or in
exile. I can only say that through this friend I was able to send
letters to my comrades, and that he kept me informed of all that might
interest me in external events. I learned, among other things, that the
well-known revolutionists then living in exile in Paris—Peter Lavrov,
Lopàtin, and Tihomìrov—had held a council upon the conduct of
Degàiev[36]—then also in Paris—and had come to the conclusion that
though certainly, in assisting to “remove” Soudyèhkin, Degàiev had
rendered a service to the revolutionary cause, yet that he must refrain
unconditionally from any further participation in our movement, and from
associating in any way with revolutionists. I learned also that a young
girl of twenty, Maria Kalyùshnaya,[37] had attempted to shoot Colonel
Katànsky of the gendarmerie in his own house, but had not been
successful. About a fortnight before my removal to Odessa she had been
tried before a court-martial; and as she was not of age, had “only” been
sentenced to twenty years’ penal servitude in Siberia.

Footnote 36:

  See note, p. 43.

Footnote 37:

  See later, chapters xvii, xix, xxi, xxvi, etc.



                               CHAPTER X
   A BRAVE OFFICER—MY MILITARY SERVICE—THE TRIAL—FURTHER EXAMINATIONS


On one of the first days of my imprisonment in Odessa I had a small
passage-at-arms. I was pacing my cell, when I suddenly heard voices
raised outside the door. I went and looked through the peephole. It was
the officer of the day on his rounds of inspection, and he seemed to be
questioning one of the soldiers about his duties. I was going to draw
back again, when the words, “Get away from there, you scoundrel!” struck
my ears; and only after a moment did I realise they were addressed to
me. I was extremely surprised, for the officers generally behaved quite
politely to the “politicals.”

I instantly withdrew from the door without a word, but I resolved to
teach this gentleman a lesson in manners. So that evening, when the
deputy-governor paid his usual visit to my cell, accompanied by the
officer, without appearing to notice the latter I asked if prisoners
were forbidden to look through the peephole.

“No, of course not,” said the deputy-governor. “How could anyone prevent
you?”

“Then, will you please tell me if a prisoner should be abused by an
officer for doing so?”

“Certainly not.”

I then related what had occurred, and requested the official to give me
particulars in writing next morning as to this officer’s name and
position, so that I should know how to state my complaint about him.

Next day my gendarme told me this promising young lieutenant had been
round more than once during the night, telling him and the policeman
what they were to say if there were any inquiry. Evidently the young
fellow was in some trepidation, as he had thus humbled himself before
his inferiors. I felt rather sorry for him, and thinking he had a
sufficient warning, I took no further steps in the matter.

My case, meanwhile, was running its course. About the middle of
September the examining magistrate read me the document that was the
outcome of his labours. According to paragraph so-and-so of the
statute-book, it set forth, he must hand me over to the Prosecutor of
the Military Court. I at once entered a protest, calling attention to
the extradition treaty, which enjoined my being tried by the ordinary
civil law, not by any special tribunal. Whereupon the magistrate showed
me a paper, in which the Minister of Justice informed him that after the
conclusion of the examination he must act according to such and such a
paragraph, which enacted that crimes committed by any person belonging
to the army must be dealt with by a court-martial.

“When the crime of which you are accused was committed,” said the
magistrate, “you were serving in the army.”

This makes another retrospective digression necessary, that I may tell
the reader something about my youth and my brief military career.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Led by the spirit of the times and my own convictions, I had donned
peasant’s dress and gone “among the people,” to return home in the
autumn of 1875 disenchanted and discouraged after my propagandist
efforts. Like many youths of those days, I was filled with impetuous
longings. I wanted to use my young strength, and yearned after great
deeds; but what I should begin upon I hardly knew.

When I returned from my campaign I found very few of my old companions
in Kiëv. Some were in prison, others were scattered to the four winds.
It was just at this time that insurrections had broken out in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Numbers of young men, among whom were many Socialists, had
joined the volunteer corps, and I found a very warlike spirit abroad.
The fight for freedom on the heights of the Balkans was the topic of the
day. A youth of twenty was naturally carried away by this tide; and I
was preparing to go off to the war and fight in the struggle to release
an oppressed people from the Turkish yoke, but I was too late, the waves
were retreating. Volunteers wrote from the scene of action letters that
were only disheartening. The situation was of such a nature that young
people—for the most part not inured to the hardships of guerrilla
warfare—were not only useless, but an encumbrance to the fighters; and
our friends advised that no more such should be sent out. So I had to
give up my project.

However, I had got the war fever, and was altogether at a loose end; so
I resolved to serve my time in the Russian Army as a volunteer, although
it was a year sooner than was necessary. Doubtless I was moved to this
partly by the consideration that as a soldier I should have
opportunities of continuing my propagandist work, and also by the
thought that military training might be of use to me hereafter.

According to the then existing regulations I had only six months to
serve as a volunteer of the second class. Thus it came about that in the
end of October, 1875, I became a private soldier in the 130th regiment
of infantry at Kiëv. But it also happened that only four months later I
had to leave the service, as I will now explain. One of my friends, a
student named Semen Luryè, implicated in the “Case of the 193,”[38] was
at this time imprisoned at Kiëv. The all-powerful adjutant of
gendarmerie, Baron Gèhkin, had borrowed large sums of money from the
parents of Luryè, and thanks to this circumstance the prisoner was
allowed opportunities for escaping. I rendered him some assistance in
his flight, and suspicion falling upon me, my dwelling was searched by
the gendarmes. My arrest seemed imminent; and being a soldier, I should
have been brought before a court-martial, which in those days of heavy
sentences would have sealed my fate, so I went into hiding until the
intentions of the gendarmerie should become clear. In a few days it was
evident that Baron Gèhkin (who might come in for a good deal of blame,
as he had allowed the fugitive many favours) would be sure to hush the
thing up, so far as possible. It therefore seemed my simplest plan to
report myself again on duty, when I should be punished for five days’
absence without leave, but at worst not very severely. Things, however,
turned out differently. My regiment belonged to the 33rd division, at
the head of which was Vannòvsky, later Minister of War, and subsequently
of Education. He hated the volunteers; and I, who by no means took
kindly to subordination and discipline, was not in his good books. As
ill-luck would have it, just at the time of my absence the General had
ordered up my battalion of volunteers; so when I now reported myself I
was taken straight to him, and he sent me off at once to headquarters
for trial. I was accused of desertion; and over and above that I had
brought upon myself a charge of insulting an officer on duty, because I
had objected to being called “thou” and roughly handled by the officer
on guard. The affair looked rather bad for me, and flight seemed the
only remedy. I succeeded in making good my escape with the help of two
of my comrades, who brought me civilian’s clothes into the bath-house. I
dressed myself in them, and passed the sentry at the door unrecognised.
This was in February, 1876, from which time until the autumn of 1877 I
was free, but an “illegal,” as I have already said. In the autumn of
1877 I was again arrested, as related in chapter i., and in the
following spring I once more escaped.

Footnote 38:

  One of the monster trials of revolutionists undertaken by the Russian
  Government at that period. More than 1,000 persons were implicated in
  it.—_Trans._

                  *       *       *       *       *

To return to my present narrative. I made two protests against the
magistrate’s decision to send me before a court-martial: one directed to
the president of the Military Court in Odessa, and one to Nabòkov, the
Minister of Justice. I called Bogdanòvitch to witness that the
Government of Baden had only surrendered me on condition that I should
be brought before an ordinary court, and tried by civil, not martial
law. If a military court were to try me for desertion and insulting an
officer, that would be against the conditions of the treaty, which laid
down that I should only be answerable on the Gorinòvitch count.

As was to be foreseen, my petitions were set aside without further
parley; and soon after, my indictment, signed by the Public Prosecutor
of the Courts-martial, was put before me. This indictment left me in no
doubt as to what kind of trial I was to have. Certainly the facts
relating to the assault on Gorinòvitch were given; but nothing whatever
was said as to the motives, nor as to the circumstances that led to it.
Of course, the prosecutor had not failed to make use of the most
stringent articles in the Russian Criminal Code. The heaviest punishment
authorised therein (for parricide and such-like crimes) is penal
servitude for life, and it was the very article dealing with that
sentence which was cited in my case. According to the law this penalty
is capable of various degrees of mitigation under certain extenuating
circumstances: _e.g._ it may be reduced to twenty years’ penal servitude
when the victim of the assault survives, even though against the
intention of his assailant; and further, the term of years is to be
shortened by a third if the perpetrator be under age at the date of the
crime. In accordance with this, the Public Prosecutor asked for thirteen
years and four months as my sentence, that being the maximum penalty to
which I could be liable under the terms of the extradition treaty. Even
then, the proclamation made at the time of Alexander III.’s accession
might come into consideration; by it judges were authorised to remit the
punishments for any crime committed before the date of the proclamation.
In my case there was no hope of this permission being used; and I looked
upon this whole travesty of justice as a formality which had to be gone
through, but otherwise of no significance. I therefore declined the
assistance of the advocate assigned to me (some candidate for a military
post), and prepared to endure the unpleasant ordeal as best I could.

The day of the trial came. A great van with barred windows rumbled into
the prison yard. I was put into it, a sergeant of police took his seat
beside me, and the door was fastened outside with a mighty padlock. The
gendarme who had been so long my companion in captivity mounted the box;
a company of infantry escorted us, and the cortège was finally
surrounded by Cossacks on horseback. The Chief of Police led the van,
and a commissary of police formed the rearguard. It might have been
supposed that at least a dozen robber chiefs, each with his horde of
banditti, were being transported through the town. As we passed along
the streets this unusual procession aroused the attention of the public,
and I saw people crowding to the windows. Meanwhile I chatted quietly
with the police-sergeant. It seemed that he had been on duty in Kiëv
twenty years before, and knew my family.

“Who would have thought that little Deutsch I often used to see would
ever come to this!” said he, and began following up old recollections,
talking of my father and our house. My thoughts flew back over the
years, and scenes of my childhood rose before me.

The court was filled with a carefully selected “public,” consisting of
officers and their womenfolk, people connected with the law, and other
representatives of the official world. The examination of the witnesses
produced nothing of any interest. Most of those originally called were
either dead or had disappeared, and those few who did attend made
inconclusive statements, their memories being vague after the lapse of
eight years—some, indeed, refused to answer on that account. The
principal witness, Gorinòvitch himself, for some reason did not appear,
but his deposition was read. I on my side took little part in the
proceedings, and had renounced my right to call witnesses for the
defence. But I was moved and excited; the large audience, mostly
hostile, that gazed on me worked on my feelings. I sought for a familiar
face, but saw nobody I knew except the Public Prosecutor of the Civil
Courts, who had conducted my examination in prison.

After the hearing of witnesses the Military Prosecutor took up his
parable. His speech was a verbal reiteration of the formal indictment
which I had already seen. All my interest was to hear what motives he
would assign. As he could impute to me neither “selfish ends” nor
“personal hatred,” he gave “revenge” as the reason of the assault; but
of course he had to abstain carefully from suggesting any motive for
this “revenge,” as he dared not mention the word “political.” The order
to keep dark at all costs the political character of the case led to
perfectly irreconcilable accounts of what happened. The Public
Prosecutor informed the court that I had been arrested in 1877, and had
made such and such admissions in the course of examination, but that I
had subsequently “withdrawn” from justice. He dared not say that I had
escaped from prison at Kiëv; and it was still funnier when he had to
explain that I had “withdrawn” from my military service.

I began my defence by the declaration that I had no desire to plead for
any mitigation of sentence, as was proved by my not denying that I had
fully intended to kill Gorinòvitch, though there was no proof of this
save my own avowal.[39] I was ready to face the consequences, and my
only wish was that the story should be truthfully told, that things
might appear in their true light. With that in view I would put clearly
before the court the reasons why my comrades and I had come to the
resolution of putting Gorinòvitch to death. Scarcely, however, had I
uttered the words, “We had formed a ‘circle’ in Elisavetgrad,” than the
presiding general, Grodèkov, interrupted me with the observation that
under the conditions of the trial I must refrain from any allusion to
political offences.

Footnote 39:

  Grave bodily injury without intent to kill was only punishable with
  four or five years’ hard labour, to be diminished by one-third in the
  case of minors.

Of course, under such terms a true exposition of the real character of
the affair could not possibly be made, the events could not even be
narrated with any coherence. For instance, when I began again, “While
Gorinòvitch was in prison in Kiëv,” the president stopped me instantly,
and said that was out of order; and though I then carefully avoided
mentioning names of persons or places, or any political occurrence, I
was continually interrupted by the president, and threatened with being
silenced altogether or removed from court. I really did not see how to
put things so as to make out the simplest statement; and I soon
concluded this so-called speech of defence, in which I was not allowed
to defend myself, and scarcely to speak. Even then the Military
Prosecutor carried the comedy so far as to wax indignant over my
“contradictory statements.” I answered him briefly, and declined to make
any concluding remarks.

The deliberation of the court was very short, and the sentence was of
course in accordance with the Public Prosecutor’s demand—thirteen years
and four months’ penal servitude.

I was then escorted back to prison; and although I had always expected
this sentence, I felt in a certain sense relieved as if a weight had
fallen from my shoulders. Everything was now settled once for all.
Uncertainty, as I have said, is a prisoner’s hardest trial; and I had
only now to wonder whither I should be sent. As I had been tried as an
ordinary criminal, I might be despatched to Kara, in Siberia, where were
old friends and acquaintances of mine, and where the prison life was
comparatively bearable. Or they could send me to the island of
Saghalien, where—as all Russia knows—the conditions are horrible. But
what frightened me most of all was the thought that the Government (who
by having to stick more or less to the extradition treaty had been
prevented from sentencing me to such a severe punishment as they would
have liked) might still find some excuse for aggravating my penalty, and
send me to be buried alive in the Schlüsselburg fortress. The building
of that prison had just been finished, and everyone was saying that as
it was intended for the most dangerous of the “politicals,” a
murderously cruel régime was to be enforced there.

A week after the trial the president of the court-martial came to inform
me officially of the sentence. I was taken into the office, where
General Grodèkov had entrenched himself behind a wide table, so that he
was well separated from me; but even so he commanded the sentries to
stand between us with fixed bayonets, and seemed terribly apprehensive
of what I might do to him. I was much amused, and my guards were very
contemptuous, as I gathered from their subsequent comments while I was
being taken back to my cell. Indeed, I have never seen any civilian take
so many precautions when speaking with a convict as this seasoned
warrior thought necessary.

Although the proceedings against me were concluded, I still had to
undergo further examinations, but in the character of a witness. First
there appeared one day a captain of gendarmerie, accompanied by the
Public Prosecutor. He addressed the following question to me:—

“A letter was found in your cell at Freiburg; it contained an address.
You were to arrange for the despatch of books from this address. Can you
tell me what the books were, and who was the writer of the letter? And
remember,” he continued, “that through our possession of this address a
number of persons in Vilna have been arrested. If you will tell us who
was the actual writer, the others will be set at liberty.”

I knew this trick well enough, and replied calmly—

“You seem to think it not dishonourable to reveal the names of one’s
correspondents. I cannot agree with you.”

The young man looked embarrassed, and hastily brought our interview to
an end.

It was true that the authorities in Baden had consented to give up all
my papers to the Russian Government; an excess of zeal they might well
have spared, for in consequence many absolutely innocent people were
molested by the secret police. I myself was to blame, having
unfortunately omitted to destroy this address when I was sorting my
papers with Professor Thun.

Another time I was called up by an examining magistrate, who showed me a
letter from the Ministry of Justice, instructing him to examine me
concerning some events connected with the murder of General Mezentzev.
He read me the deposition of a certain Goldenberg; according to which I
had met Goldenberg one day in the horse-market of Kharkov, and had
mentioned to him that it was S. Kravtchìnsky[40] who had stabbed the
chief of gendarmerie.

Footnote 40:

  Well known to English readers by his assumed name of Stepniak. See
  later, chap. xxv.—_Trans._

I did indeed recollect walking in the horse-market with Goldenberg, and
that he had told me how he himself had in that very place killed the
governor of Kharkov, Prince Kropotkin. Whether I had said anything about
the part played by Kravtchìnsky in the assault on Mezentzev I could not
remember. The thought shot through my mind that Kravtchìnsky had perhaps
been captured abroad like myself, and that the Russian Government were
wanting to get him extradited too. The statement of Goldenberg, which
only repeated the words of another, was not sufficient evidence for
that, and they desired my testimony in addition. I therefore did not
refuse to speak on this occasion, but made a statement tending to
counteract that of Goldenberg. I told them I had certainly talked to
Goldenberg about the assassination; but that I had merely mentioned
rumours which ascribed the deed sometimes to me, sometimes to
Kravtchìnsky. Fortunately my alarm was unnecessary: Kravtchìnsky was
already in London and out of danger.



                               CHAPTER XI
THE VISIT OF THE MINISTER—I AM TURNED INTO A CONVICT—THE PRISON AT KIËV


Shortly after my trial a feverish anxiety set in at the Odessa prison:
the Minister of Justice was expected. Of course, everything except the
straw and the tub was taken out of my cell; and one day the great man
appeared, attended by an imposing suite—the governor of the town among
the rest. As soon as Nabòkov saw me he greeted me by name, which seemed
to excite the governor’s interest in no small degree.

“Your Excellency is pleased to recognise Deutsch?”

“Oh yes; we have met in Petersburg,” answered Nabòkov in an agreeable
tone, as if recalling a meeting in some elegant drawing-room instead of
in a prison. He then turned to me, to tell me that he had received my
petition, and had “reported to His Majesty”; but the Tsar had pronounced
that as a former member of the army I must go before a court-martial,
and therefore that had been the only course. The manner in which I was
lodged seemed to strike the minister unpleasantly, for he looked round
my cell, and asked if I were properly treated and had no complaints to
make. I now learned that my transference to Moscow was decided on; that
I was to winter there, and remain until the journey to Siberia was
possible.

The way in which the minister had spoken to me seemed to have made a
powerful impression on the prison authorities; for scarcely had “His
Excellency” left the place than the governor hastened to my cell, and
took me to one much more comfortable, where were a good bed, a table,
and a chair.

“A report has been made to His Majesty himself about you!” I was
therefore a person of consequence, and the governor’s official soul was
troubled. I was offered books from a lending library, and was henceforth
treated with marked civility. Of course, I knew that this alteration
really proceeded from orders given by the three functionaries spoken of
in a previous chapter, who had been the cause of my former
ill-treatment. This is a striking example of the arbitrary way in which
prisoners are used.

I had not much longer to enjoy these marks of favour. A fortnight later
I was informed that a party of convicts would start for Moscow that
evening. I was to accompany them, and accordingly must assume the
convict garb. After eighteen years I think of that day with a shudder.

First of all, I was taken into a room where was stored everything
necessary to the equipment of a convict under sentence. On the floor lay
piles of chains; and clothes, boots, etc., were heaped on shelves. From
among them some were selected that were supposed to fit me; and I was
then conducted to a second room. Here the right side of my head was
shaved, and the hair on the left side cut short. I had seen people in
the prison who had been treated in this fashion, and the sight had
always made a painful impression on me, as indeed it does on everyone.
But when I saw my own face in the glass a cold shudder ran down my
spine, and I experienced a sensation of personal degradation to
something less than human. I thought of the days—in Russia not so long
ago—when criminals were branded with hot irons.

A convict was waiting ready to fasten on my fetters. I was placed on a
stool, and had to put my foot on an anvil. The blacksmith fitted an iron
ring round each ankle, and welded it together. Every stroke of the
hammer made my heart sink, as I realised that a new existence was
beginning for me.

The mental depression into which I now fell was soon accompanied by
physical discomfort. The fetters at first caused me intolerable pain in
walking, and even disturbed my sleep. It also requires considerable
practice before one can easily manage to dress and undress. The heavy
chains—about 13 lbs. in weight—are not only an encumbrance, but are very
painful, as they chafe the skin round the ankles; and the leather lining
is but little protection to those unaccustomed to these adornments.
Another great torment is the continual clinking of the chains. It is
indescribably irritating to the nervous, and reminds the prisoner at
every turn that he is a pariah among his kind, “deprived of all rights.”

The transformation is completed by the peculiar convict dress,
consisting—besides the coarse linen underclothing—of a grey gown made of
special material, and a pair of trousers. Prisoners condemned to hard
labour wear a square piece of yellow cloth sewn on their gowns. The feet
are clad in leathern slippers nicknamed “cats.” All these articles of
clothing are inconvenient, heavy, and ill-fitting.

I hardly knew myself when I looked in the glass and beheld a fully
attired convict. The thought possessed me—“For long years you will have
to go about in that hideous disguise.” Even the gendarme regarded me
with compassion.

“What won’t they do to a man?” he said. And I could only try to comfort
myself by thinking how many unpleasant things one gets used to, and that
time might perhaps accustom one even to this.

My own clothes I gave away to the warders, and any possessions of
value—watch, ring, cigarette-case—I sent by post to relations. I kept
only my books. I had been given a bag in which to keep a change of
linen; and into it I also put a few volumes of Shakespeare, Goethe,
Heine, Molière, and Rousseau, thus completing my preparations for
travelling.

[Illustration:

  PRISONERS MARCHING THROUGH THE STREETS OF ODESSA
    To face page 96
]

Evening came. The officer in command of the convoy appeared in the
prison courtyard with his men and took the party in charge. I was
conducted to the office. A _statyehny spìsok_[41] is prepared for each
individual convict, in which his name and place of exile are entered,
and also a list of the exciseable things he takes with him. In the
_statyehny spìsok_ of each political prisoner his photograph is pasted,
and in mine there were two.

Footnote 41:

  Literally “a list of particulars.”—_Trans._

The officer carefully went through all these _dossiers_. We were then
arranged in processional order. The soldiers surrounded us; the officer
lifted his cap and crossed himself.

“A pleasant journey! Good-bye!” called out the prison officials.

“Thanks. Good-bye!” cried the officer. He then gave the signal to start,
and off we marched at a slow pace to the station.

On account of the conditions attached by the Grand Duke of Baden to my
extradition, I had till now been treated sometimes as an ordinary
criminal, sometimes as a “political”; but from the moment I joined this
convoy I was treated frankly as a “political.”[42] This being so, I was
not placed among the ordinary criminals when we reached the train, but
was put in the compartment reserved for the escort. Here there was a
fair amount of room, and one could be pretty comfortable, while the
others were packed like herrings in a barrel; but, on the other hand,
the society of the soldiers was not very enlivening, as they dared not
exchange a word with me in presence of the officer.

Footnote 42:

  The Russian Government has a twofold reason for making this careful
  distinction between ordinary and political prisoners after conviction.
  Firstly, in order that the supervision of the latter shall be
  stricter, and that they may be prevented from influencing the ordinary
  prisoners; and secondly, because the “politicals” were originally only
  recruited from the upper and privileged classes, and the tradition
  remains.

After four-and-twenty hours we arrived at Kiëv, where we were to have a
day’s rest. We got out of the train, were formed up in procession,
encircled by the soldiers, and marched by a roundabout way through the
suburbs to the prison.

A strange emotion possessed me, when, after years of wandering both in
Russia and abroad, I once again passed through the streets of my native
town. I had not been here since I had fled from prison in 1878, six
years before; and now I returned in chains, with the ominous yellow
diamond on my back, a convict doomed to years of exile.

“Get on, get on! Mind what you’re about!” I heard a rough voice say, and
felt a poke in my back from the butt-end of a rifle.

“This is the beginning,” I thought, and pictured all the humiliation and
suffering that lay before me. However, the officer had remarked the
incident, and coming up, reprimanded the soldier who had hustled me.

When we came to the prison gate the convicts were told off one by one
like sheep, and let through the door in turn. I was taken straight to
the office. Here everything was altered, and everywhere faces were
strange to me. Fat old Captain Kovàlsky was gone, and the rest of the
staff had been changed too.

“It was from this prison you escaped?” asked a haughty-looking man in
uniform, the new governor, Simàshko. I assented.

“Ah, you managed that very cunningly!” said he, laughing.

In reality the thing had been very simple. One of my comrades, named
Frolènko, had provided himself with a false passport, and had got
employment in the prison; one night he took Stefanòvitch, Bohanòvsky and
me away disguised as warders.[43]

Footnote 43:

  The story of this escape has been told by Professor Thun, in his
  history of the Russian revolutionary movement (_Geschichte der
  revolutionären Bewegung in Russland_), and also by Stepniak
  (_Underground Russia: Two Escapes_), who had it from Bohanòvsky; but
  the readers of the present volume may like to have it repeated with
  more detail than our author has thought fit to give.

  When Stefanòvitch, Deutsch, and Bohanòvsky were imprisoned at Kiëv,
  Frolènko contrived to obtain work in the prison as a sort of odd man
  under the name of Michael. He gradually rose to be warder, first in
  the criminal and then in the “political” department, where, in spite
  of a feigned protest made by his three friends (who did not wish to
  appear on good terms with him), he was appointed to their corridor.
  They lost no time in fixing a night for their escape together; and
  having obtained two suits of private clothes and a warder’s dress for
  the prisoners to put on, he let them out of their cells at midnight.
  As they were creeping along the dark passages one of them stumbled
  against something, at which he grasped to save himself from falling.
  Instantly a deafening noise woke the echoes, he had clutched the rope
  of the alarm bell! “Michael” hastened off to explain to the staff that
  he had accidentally caught at the rope, and luckily this sufficed to
  satisfy everyone. As soon as all was quiet again he collected his
  companions from the corners where they had hidden, and all proceeded
  safely to the entrance, where the key was handed to “Michael” without
  a question. They stepped out of the prison almost into the arms of an
  officer; but he proved to be their comrade Ossìnsky, who had been
  organising the affair, and who now conducted them to the river, where
  a boat with provisions was ready for them. They travelled up the
  Dnieper for a week, concealing themselves in the long rushes of the
  bank if a steamer came in sight; and they finally reached Kremutshy,
  where Ossìnsky furnished them with passports and money. “Michael” was
  for long supposed by the Kiëv prison officials to have been made away
  with by the escaping prisoners.—_Trans._

After the usual formalities I was led away to my cell, and as I passed
along the corridors I noticed that structural alterations had been made
everywhere. The cell in which I was installed was unusually large, and
was almost filled up by the wooden bedshelves; apparently it was
generally used for a large number of prisoners temporarily confined
there, and had now been assigned for my sole occupation, so that I might
not be left among the other convicts.

The prison of Kiëv has an interesting history in connexion with the
“politicals.” Many episodes—not always entirely tragic—in the
revolutionary movement have taken place there; indeed, in that respect
scarcely any other Russian prison except the Fortress of Peter and Paul
can equal it. Above all, it has been the scene of frequent escapes.
Besides us Tchigirìners, in the same year the student Isbìtsky and an
Englishman named Beverley attempted an escape. They had scooped out a
tunnel under the wall, and were actually already free, when a sentinel
espied them and fired. The Englishman fell dead, and Isbìtsky was
caught. Four years later another student, named Basil Ivànov, escaped
with the help of the officer in command of the guard, a certain Tìhonov,
a member of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_. Shortly before my arrival, Vladìmir
Bìtshkov also disappeared from Kiëv prison in a very mysterious way, and
so far as I know a certain much-esteemed authority has to this day not
solved the riddle of that, and is probably still racking his brains over
it. Finally, in August, 1902, eleven “very important” prisoners escaped
from Kiëv, nine of them having been arrested early in the year, and two
the year before. These prisoners were allowed to take exercise every
evening in the prison courtyard, in presence of only one warder. They
and their friends knew that one of the surrounding outer walls, beyond
which were fields, was unguarded on the outside. They were provided
secretly with an iron anchor weighing twenty pounds, and with an
improvised ladder made of strips of sheets. At a given moment some of
the prisoners muffled and gagged the guard, and tied him up before he
could give the alarm. In the meantime others formed themselves into a
living pyramid, and thus managed to fix their anchor to the top of the
prison wall, so that they could fasten to it their ladder for ascending
and a rope for descending on the other side. That after they were
actually free they could manage to hide in the town, and afterwards all
get away safely, was due to the sympathy of the general public, many
members of which not only helped the fugitives by deed, but also
subscribed together a considerable sum to assist the escape. It is
noteworthy that from first to last in this affair no one was killed or
hurt, nor a drop of blood shed.

But these prison walls have also witnessed sadder scenes. Many
revolutionists have passed their last hours within them, waiting to be
led to the scaffold. Still greater is the number of those who have left
this place to tread the path to exile and the Siberian prisons. Only the
Fortress of Peter and Paul, the gaol at Odessa, and perhaps the Warsaw
citadel, can for memories like these compare with the prison of Kiëv.
Here too, more than anywhere else, have conflicts taken place between
the imprisoned revolutionists and the authorities. The tradition as to
these occurrences remains unbroken; every “political” cherishes the
memory of the “old times”—_i.e._ the exceptionally stormy years 1877-9.
The young generation speaks of them as the “heroic ages”; and not only
the prison staff, but even the ordinary criminals (who are employed here
in the domestic labour of the place), relate stories of them. The
authorities have never succeeded in uprooting the independent spirit
that flourishes within these precincts, and the door had hardly closed
behind me when I had a proof of it.

“The ‘politicals’ beg that you will be so kind as to write down your
name, in what case you are implicated, and where you were sentenced,” I
heard a voice at the door say. I stepped nearer, and saw it proceeded
from one of the ordinary criminals, who was speaking through the
peephole. When I answered that I had nothing on which to write, he
instantly produced a pencil and a bit of paper, and poked them through
to me.

I stated shortly who I was, and begged my comrades to let me know in
return who and how many they were, and concerned in what cases. The same
man came back almost immediately with a reply, which ended with the
words: “You will soon hear particulars verbally from our ladies.”

And sure enough I soon heard a woman’s voice bidding me climb up to the
window. I did so; but as I then found that there was no way of opening
it, I wasted no time, simply proceeding to smash two panes of the double
windows. Outside stood two ladies, wives of political prisoners, by name
Paraskovya Shebalina[44] and Vitolda Rechnyèvskaia. They were taking
exercise in the courtyard of the women’s quarters, and my window being
close to the wall separating the two yards, we could easily communicate.
I thus heard full details about the imprisoned “politicals,” who were
not few in number, as a trial had just taken place in the Kiëv courts,
at which twelve persons had been sentenced: four of them, including
Shebalìn, to penal servitude, and his wife to exile, on the sole ground
that in their house type had been discovered with which a pamphlet was
to be secretly printed. We were, however, suddenly interrupted in our
talk by the appearance of the assistant governor.

Footnote 44:

  Surnames in Russian take the feminine termination when used for a
  woman. It will be noticed below that the husbands of these two ladies
  are called Shebalìn and Rechnyèvsky.—_Trans._

“What’s all this? You’ve broken the window?”

“Yes,” said I; “why haven’t you proper fastenings, so that they could be
opened?”

“Well, you will suffer for it; you will be frozen with cold to-night.”
And in fact there was a sharp November frost. He then turned to the two
ladies, and bade them go away, as it was entirely against rules to wait
about at the door. Here, however, he met his match; for the two turned
on him, requesting him to be off himself, and not disturb us. Paraskovya
Shebalina especially was most energetic in her treatment of him. She was
a lively and charming young lady, whom the atmosphere of a prison had
rendered so nervously excitable that the mere sight of an official would
send her into a passion, which led to endless contests.

Vitolda Rechnyèvskaia shared the captivity of her husband. They were a
very young couple, married only a few days before their arrest. Thaddeus
Rechnyèvsky[45] was twenty-one years of age; he had just left the school
of jurisprudence in Petersburg University when he was arrested, and was
now (1884) under examination as to his association with the Polish
Socialist “proletarian” party, whose members were prosecuted at Warsaw
in 1885.

Footnote 45:

  See portraits, pp. 259 and 260.

Besides the above mentioned, who were either condemned to banishment or
still under examination, there were in the prison a number of people who
were to be exiled by “administrative methods.” There had been riots in
Kiëv University shortly before this, in consequence of which the
University was closed, and many of the students were imprisoned.

New facts and impressions crowded upon me, and it was late before I lay
down. I threw over the plank-bed the sheepskin that had been given me,
and covered myself with my great-coat. The night was frightfully cold,
and the wind whistled through the broken window. I put my bag under my
head, but the French and German classics it contained did not make a
very comfortable pillow, and it was long ere I slept. Suddenly I was
awakened by a terrific hullabaloo. I ran to the door, and called to the
warder to know what was happening. After some time he turned up, and I
learned that the criminals in the next room had been having a tussle;
one of them had hidden away a few roubles, and the others having seen
it, had tried to murder and rob him. He had succeeded in keeping them at
bay and calling for help.

“That’s the way that lot always go on!” remarked the warder composedly,
and returned to his post and his nap. There were no further consequences
of the scrimmage; with an “I’ll teach you!” the warder had separated the
combatants, and the thing was at an end. He never even reported the
occurrence, it was such an everyday event.

Next morning the governor came hurrying to me, and said that the colonel
of gendarmerie was coming to visit me. This was Novìtsky; I did not know
him personally, but many amusing stories were told about him in our
circles. He arrived, accompanied by his adjutant, put the usual
question—“Have you any complaint to make?”—and then began to chat. It
was pure curiosity that had brought him. I remember he wanted to know
if, when abroad, I had come across Debagòrio-Makriyèvitch, who had been
imprisoned at Kiëv in 1879 and condemned to penal servitude; but on his
way to Siberia had “swopped” with one of the ordinary criminals, and so
escaped. When I said I had seen him in Switzerland, Novìtsky overwhelmed
me with questions: “Now tell me, how is Vladimir Kàrpovitch? What is he
doing over there?” One would have thought Makriyèvitch was at least one
of his relations; he spoke of him familiarly by his Christian name and
his father’s name.[46] Like Colonel Ivànov in Petersburg, who had known
my old companions, he too went off into praises of them; though all the
while he was doing what he could to bring two of Makriyèvitch’s comrades
to the scaffold.[47] They are easy-going people, these ornaments of
officialdom!

Footnote 46:

  It should be remembered that in private intercourse Russians do not
  use their family names, but the Christian name combined with the
  Christian name of the father, _e.g._ Vladimir Kàrpovitch—Vladimir, son
  of Kàrpo, the same man’s family name being Debagòrio-Makriyèvitch.

Footnote 47:

  Antònov and Brantner, besides Ossìnsky and some of the others whose
  names I have mentioned above.



                              CHAPTER XII
      NEW ACQUAINTANCES—THE GIRL—CONSPIRATORS OF ROMNY—ARRIVAL IN
         MOSCOW—COMPANIONS IN DESTINY—A LIBERAL-MINDED GOVERNOR


Next morning I was taken to the office, where arrangements were being
made for the continuation of our journey. When formalities were over the
governor said to me that I had better go into the next room: “You will
find company there—comrades of yours who are to travel to Moscow with
you.”

In my conversation with the two ladies they had told me that two exiles,
banished by “administrative methods,” Vladimir Malyòvany and Anna
Ptshèlkina, were to travel with me; and I was very glad to make
acquaintance with my future companions. I had known Malyòvany by name
for some time past. He had once been secretary to the Town Council of
Odessa, had been exiled to Siberia by “administrative methods” in the
end of the seventies, after some years had made his escape, and was now
being sent back to Siberia again for five years.[48]

Footnote 48:

  This sentence was renewed later, and in 1892 he died in hospital at
  Tomsk.

When I entered the room I found there two well-dressed young ladies, a
middle-aged gentleman with a black beard, and an officer in full
uniform. One of the ladies stood close by the door, and I held out my
hand to greet her; but she drew back and stared at me, looking surprised
and rather alarmed. Evidently she took me for some bold criminal!
Smiling, I gave my name; and the girl instantly grasped my hand, and
shook it warmly with many apologies. She was Anna Ptshèlkina’s sister,
come to say farewell to the exile. “I really am afraid of you!” she
said, with a friendly glance, smiling rather shamefacedly.

The black-bearded man was Malyòvany. The other lady, with a
delicate-looking but sympathetic and expressive face, was Anna
Ptshèlkina, who was being sent to Western Siberia for three years. The
officer was Captain Vòlkov, commanding our convoy. We exiles were
naturally friends directly, and at once engaged in eager conversation.
With my shaven head, clattering fetters, and convict’s dress, I
contrasted oddly with the others, who looked civilised and respectable.
In the faces of the two sisters, especially in that of the younger, I
plainly read the most romantic interest in my fate. Probably she now for
the first time beheld a Socialist, stamped outwardly as a criminal and
deprived of all civil rights, going forth to a gloomy future. She begged
me, if there were any special thing I would like to have, to write it
down; and handed me a pencil and paper that she might keep my note as a
reminder. I wrote down the titles of some mathematical text-books, and
she promised to send them; but she either forgot all about it, or lost
my elegant autograph—at all events, the books never arrived.

Malyòvany and Anna Ptshèlkina were then taken in a carriage to the
station, while I—though also invited to drive—preferred to go on foot.
So I marched with the rest of the party, rattling my chains, along the
streets of my native town. When, and under what circumstances, should I
see it again?

We were taken straight to the railway carriage engaged for us by the
organisers of the convoy, while a compartment was reserved for the
officer. We settled ourselves comfortably, and the train started. I now
asked my companions the reason of their banishment, and learned from
them that—as in many other instances described to me by people who had
similarly been exiled to Siberia by “administrative methods”—they had
simply been accused by the police of being _neblàgonadyèshny_, _i.e._
untrustworthy. This word has become classical in Russian police affairs,
and has a conveniently vague signification. Literally it means “of whom
nothing good can be expected.” A young man or a girl associates with
So-and-so, reads such and such books; this is enough to awaken suspicion
that the said young man or girl is “untrustworthy.” The police or the
gendarmerie pay a domiciliary visit, find a suspicious letter or a
prohibited book, and then the course of events is certain: arrest,
imprisonment, Siberia. It may be scarcely credible that people languish
for years in prison, without any pretence of legal procedure against
them, simply by decree of an officer of gendarmerie; and that at the
good pleasure of these officers—most of them fabulously ignorant
men—people are banished to the wilds of Siberia. Even those familiar
with Russian affairs are often shocked and staggered by some fresh case
of this kind.

As we were nearing a large station the officer informed us that we
should be joined here by some more political exiles; and when the train
came to a standstill, two quite young girls—at the most eighteen to
twenty years of age—and two youths were brought into our carriage. We
three who came from Kiëv were by no means aged; but we might almost have
been called old folks by these children. We received the new-comers
cordially, and of course begged for their story, which was as follows.

In the district of Poltava the chief town is a small place called Romny,
and in this little town there is a girls’ school. Two or three of the
scholars hit upon the idea of lending one another books, and making
notes on them—not books that were in any way forbidden, but that were
accessible to all. Soon a few young men joined them; and thus a small
reading society was formed, such as might help to pass away the long
winter evenings in the dull little provincial town. As these young
people had no idea that they were committing any offence, they naturally
never dreamt of keeping their proceedings secret. But the eye of the law
is sleepless! The officer commanding the gendarmerie in that place saw
and triumphed. For years he had been vegetating in this obscure corner
of the empire, and had never unearthed the least little conspiracy, nor
brought to light a secret society; now was his chance. He could at last
make manifest his burning zeal, his devotion to his country and his
Tsar; and recognition by his superiors, perhaps an order or promotion,
shone before him. One night the gendarmerie paid domiciliary visits to
the dwellings of the young ladies of the school. Certainly nothing
suspicious was found, but the frightened girls “confessed” that they had
“held meetings,” and that they read books in a “society.” This was
enough for the brave sergeant; here were grounds for the State to take
action against the “secret society of Romny.” The girls and their
friends were arrested and imprisoned; a report was sent to Petersburg
about the discovery of a secret society, in which such and such persons
had taken part, and discussed “social questions” together; the officer
was of opinion that these evildoers should be sent to Siberia;—and the
thing was done.

When these boys and girls told me their simple tale and explained the
nature of their “crimes,” unflattering as was my opinion of legal
proceedings in Russia, I could hardly believe that there was nothing
more behind this. Only when I became more closely acquainted with these
“conspirators of Romny” and other “criminals” of their class, was I
convinced that no suggestion of fancy is too slight and unsubstantial to
be formulated as a ground for prosecution and banishment of the most
harmless people by the gendarmerie, the secret police, and the other
guardians of public safety in Russia.

After having been imprisoned for a considerable time, these young people
were now being exiled to Siberia for three years; but as travelling on
the Siberian rivers can only begin in the month of May, they were to
pass the winter with us in the Moscow Central Prison for exiles; in
other words, they must remain for another six or eight months under lock
and key.

“Doesn’t this sound like the Inquisition of the Middle Ages?” we said to
one another, talking over this specimen of “administrative exile.” The
officer of the convoy heard us, and there arose a lively discussion, in
which, of course, he combated our views on Russian politics. A witness
for the crown was soon forthcoming. During our halt at some big station
(probably Tula or Oriel) Anna Ptshèlkina opened the barred window to get
some air; and a young peasant of about twenty-two or twenty-three who
was passing, stopped and stared at the young lady, and cried jeeringly,
with a mischievous grimace, “Aha! so you’re caught, are you? _Now_
you’ve really got something to grumble at!” We all burst out laughing.
How simple was this peasant lad’s view of political difficulties!
“Caught,” “grumble”—the situation was as clear as daylight to his
philosophy, and left nothing to be explained. But indeed millions of
people, from peasants to the highest dignitaries, make use of the same
logic; witness the choice expression of the Public Prosecutor
Kotliarèvsky—“Where trees are felled there must be chips.” Everything
can be summed up and accounted for in this classically simple way; and
our officer could add nothing more.

When a few Russians get together, however, their gloomy disquisitions on
the terrible state of things prevailing in our country are always varied
by enlivening interludes of jokes and harmless chatter, funny stories
and witticisms. Malyòvany was in this respect inexhaustible. Like most
natives of Little Russia, he had a rich vein of humour, and was a born
_raconteur_. No wonder, then, that from the corner in which the soldiers
had established us, there frequently issued sounds of irrepressible
mirth.

The journey from Kiëv to Moscow took forty-eight hours, but at last we
arrived at our goal. I again chose to walk to the prison; Anna
Ptshèlkina, Malyòvany, and the Romny youths followed my example, while
the girl-conspirators elected to drive. One of them, named Serbinova,
was rather delicate; and the other, Melnikova, clung to her friend with
such tender affection that she would not be separated from her for a
moment.

It was a lovely winter morning; there was a sharp frost, and the houses
and streets of Moscow were white with newly fallen snow. Our fetters
rang clearly in the frosty air, and under our feet the snow crackled, as
in a long line we marched away to the gaol. We passed by many of those
churches and chapels in which “White Moscow” is so rich; and here most
of the convicts uncovered their heads and crossed themselves. On the
other hand, there were many streets and market-squares which reminded us
“politicals” of historic events that had taken place there, which had
much in common with our own experiences. Here the Tsars had brought
their enemies to execution. There the suspects had been publicly
flogged. And now appears “Butirki,” as the populace nicknamed the
Central Prison for exiles about to be deported. It is a mighty stone
building, and looks like a gigantic well; a great wall, with a tower at
each of the four corners, encloses it. The main building is reserved for
ordinary criminals, who are to be transported to Siberia, and contains
accommodation for many thousands. In the high towers are lodged the
various classes of “politicals.” Those condemned to penal servitude are
confined in the Pugatchev tower, which takes its name from the
celebrated adversary of Catherine II.; that Pugatchev who wanted to
“shake Moscow to its foundations,” and was made a show of in an iron
cage, till the Tsaritsa sent him to the scaffold. In the north tower
were the “administrative” exiles; in the third, or chapel tower, those
still under examination; in the fourth the women belonging to all the
different categories.

[Illustration:

  “BUTIRKI,” THE CENTRAL PRISON AT MOSCOW
    To face page 110
]

I was well informed as to the conditions prevailing in this giant
prison, from which thousands—if not tens of thousands—of persons of all
sorts and conditions are despatched yearly into exile. The reports were
not exactly unfavourable, but when we arrived at the door and entered
the gloomy edifice, a painful feeling seized on me. Since my arrest in
Freiburg—that is, during at least eight months—I had come to know three
German and six Russian prisons, and in each there was a different
régime. However careless one may be of one’s material comfort, one
cannot help experiencing an uncomfortable sensation when entering a new
place of confinement; knowing that one may be denied the most elementary
necessaries, and may perhaps have once more to begin a bitter fight
about one’s right to exercise, books, a table, or a bedstead.

In the spacious office there awaited us a man of about sixty, with a
long white beard, and spectacles on his nose, dressed in a well-worn
military coat with officer’s epaulettes. This was Captain Maltchèvsky,
one of the prison governors, specially charged with the supervision of
the political prisoners. After we ourselves and our luggage had been
searched in the usual way, we were led off to our respective quarters.

I was first taken through a long, narrow court terminating in a doorway.
Here the warder rang a bell; another warder appeared, and conducted us
through another narrow court, and up an iron spiral staircase till we
reached the third floor. We came to a halt on a dimly lighted landing
scarcely a yard and a half wide, with five doors round it. One of these
was opened, and I found myself in my cell. A rapid glance showed me that
it was not exactly luxurious; it was an irregular triangle in shape, so
tiny that one could scarcely take three steps across it, and very little
light came through the narrow window. However, it contained a bed and
other usual furniture.

“And here I shall have to live for six long months,” I thought sadly.

“Good day! Who are you?” said a voice close at hand. It turned out that
two prisoners were my neighbours, condemned like me to penal servitude
in Siberia. They were concerned in the “trial of the fourteen,” or “Vera
Figner Case,” as we usually called it, and had been sentenced at the
same time as myself. We introduced ourselves to one another, and talked
through the peepholes in our doors, which did not seem at all to disturb
the warder, who was on the landing. He soon after took us out for an
airing in the little court I had passed through, which was enclosed
within high walls; and as he left us alone here, we could talk as much
as we liked to the tune of our clanking fetters while we walked up and
down.

I now for the first time saw other political convicts like myself,
“deprived of all civil rights” and condemned to penal servitude. It was
a strange sight. I noted their youthful but worn faces; both of them
wore spectacles, and on their heads were round caps with no brims. With
their yellow sheepskins and rattling chains my comrades gave one the
impression that they could not be real convicts, but were just dressed
up for the part—so great was the contrast between their refined faces
and behaviour and this uncouth disguise.

They were about my own age—twenty-nine or thirty. The elder, Athanasius
Spandoni-Bosmàndshi, was sentenced to fifteen years’ penal servitude;
the younger, Vladimir Tchuikòv, to twenty.

Neither of them looked as if he had ever been strong, and both seemed to
have suffered much in health during their long imprisonment in the
Fortress of Peter and Paul. With their pale, thin faces they looked as
if they had just come through a severe illness. But this obvious lack of
health had been an advantage to them, as on account of it they had
escaped incarceration at Schlüsselburg,C to which place their comrades
sentenced in the same case had all been sent.

[Illustration: TCHUIKOV]

[Illustration: SPANDONI]

[Illustration: VERA FIGNER]

[Illustration: STEFANOVITCH]

[Illustration: MIRSKY]

To face page 112

We had not known one another while free; but as we had belonged to the
same society, and had worked for the same ends, we met in prison like
old comrades. During the first few days our subjects of conversation
seemed inexhaustible. We talked during our walks, and also in our cells,
where only a small space separated us, so that by speaking through the
peepholes we could hear one another perfectly well. My apprehensions on
entering this prison were soon quieted; for though the cells were
certainly uncomfortable, we gladly put up with that in view of the other
ameliorating circumstances.

On one of the first evenings I was sent for to the office, where the old
captain awaited me. My comrades had described him to me as very
good-natured and obliging, always ready to forward the wishes of the
“politicals” whenever possible. He invited me to sit down, and said he
wanted to talk quite frankly with me, to which I replied that I should
be very glad if he would do so.

“You want to get away,” he said; “don’t deny it. I know it very well.
But I think it right to warn you plainly that any such attempt can only
harm yourself and your comrades. We don’t want anyone to suffer
needlessly here; we do our best to lighten the fate of the prisoners. If
there is anything you want, you have only to set it down in black and
white” (this I found later was a pet expression of the old man’s); “we
will send your request to the Governor of Moscow, and he always does
what he can to please the prisoners, as far as the law allows him.”

Neither before nor since have I ever met an official who spoke so
candidly, and his manner inspired confidence. The old man seemed to
understand the people with whom he had to deal. He had evidently heard
of my two former escapes, and in his diplomatic way hoped to deter me
from similar attempts by speaking to me straightforwardly and convincing
me of his own goodwill. This pleased me, and I said to him forthwith
that of course every prisoner condemned to penal servitude in Siberia
must have a very distinct wish to escape; but that so far as I could see
such an idea was quite hopeless in this prison, and I had no intention
of making any attempt of the kind. This answer seemed to satisfy the old
captain, and we separated with the conviction that we should get on
rather well together.



                              CHAPTER XIII
    THE TRIAL OF THE FOURTEEN—RECOLLECTIONS OF VERA FIGNER—NUMEROUS
                  IMPRISONMENTS—“AGENTS PROVOCATEURS”


When I told the old governor that I was engaged on no plan of escape, I
spoke the simple truth. After my establishment in this prison I felt too
much wearied out to think of any such matter. Beyond everything else I
wanted rest, to recover myself after the frightful tension of the last
months. Naturally the desire for freedom did not leave me; no human
being in my circumstances could entirely abandon the thought of it. But
it remained for the time being in the background of my consciousness; I
felt I had not the energy to strive seriously for its fulfilment.

Time at first passed peacefully and quietly; I read a good deal, and
talked with my new friends. What they had to tell was in part new to me,
and very interesting. I had known nothing at all about the particulars
of their trial. It remains to this day an isolated case, in which nearly
all the accused were military or naval officers. Two of them, the naval
lieutenant Baron von Stromberg and Lieutenant Rogachev, were
executed.[49] What most interested me, however, and will most interest
others, was to hear about the heroine of this case, the celebrated Vera
Figner.[50] At that time her name was in everyone’s mouth, and for long
she was the most popular personage in revolutionary circles. All the
young people worshipped her; and the stories that were told of her
talent for organisation, her astonishing powers of invention, her
wonderful perseverance, untiring energy, and boundless readiness for
self-sacrifice, testified fully to the part she had played in our
movement. The dignified and unselfish conduct of this exceptional woman
impressed even the members of the court-martial that tried her.

Footnote 49:

  The following were condemned to death, but the sentence was afterwards
  changed to penal servitude for life: Captains Aschenbrenner and
  Pohitònov, Second Lieutenant Alex. Tihonòvitch, Ensign Ivan Yuvatchov.
  And besides these, Vera Figner and Ludmilla Wolkenstein.

Footnote 50:

  See portrait, p. 112.

I had come to know Vera Figner personally in Petersburg, during the year
1877, at a time when she had already adopted the idea of going “among
the people.” Twenty-two years of age, slender and of striking beauty,
she was even then a noteworthy figure among the other prominent women
Socialists. Like so many other girls, she had thrown heart and soul into
the cause of the Russian peasants, and was ready and willing to
sacrifice everything to serve the people.

In the summer of 1879 I again came repeatedly in contact with her. While
two years before she had impressed me as a very young propagandist,
ready to accept without question the views of her comrades, she had now
formed her own independent and keenly logical powers of judgment. As I
have previously said, this was a time of hot discussion as to our future
programme. Some held the opinion that the whole strength of our party
should be concentrated on the terrorist struggle to overthrow the
existing machinery of State by attempting the lives of the Tsar and the
lesser representatives of despotism. Others contended that revolutionary
propaganda ought still to be tried and carried further than hitherto;
that revolutionists should work among the people, colonise the villages,
and instruct the peasants in the manner of the organisation _Zemlyà i
Vòlya_ (Land and Freedom). Vera Figner was one of the most strenuous
supporters of the former view.

I remember well, how once, when our whole circle had met together at
Lesnoye, a summer resort near Petersburg, we were arguing hotly with her
as to how propaganda among the peasantry might be made to yield the most
fruitful results. She had just returned from a small village on the
Volga, where she had been living as a peasant, for purposes of
propaganda. The impressions she had received there had stirred her
deeply, and she described in graphic language the fathomless misery and
poverty, the hopeless ignorance of the provincial working classes. The
conclusion she drew from it all was that under existing conditions there
was no way of helping these people.

“Show me any such way; show me how under present circumstances I can
serve the peasants, and I am ready to go back to the villages at once,”
she said. And her whole manner left no doubt of her absolute sincerity
and readiness to keep her word. But her experience had been that of many
others who had idealised “the people,” and also their own power of
stirring them; and we were none of us prepared with any definite counsel
that could deter her from the new path she had determined to
tread—simply because she could see no other leading to the desired end.

When I went to Odessa in the late autumn of the same year I found Vera
Figner there. In conjunction with Kibàltchitch, Frolènko,[51]
Kolotkèvitch, and Zlatopòlsky she was busy with preparations for an
attempt on the life of Alexander II., who was about to return to
Petersburg from Livadia. The dynamite was stored in her house; she had
now put aside all doubt, and devoted herself with her whole soul to
terrorist activity.[52]

Footnote 51:

  See chap. xi. p. 98, note.—_Trans._

Footnote 52:

  Kibàltchitch was executed for participation in the attempt against
  Alexander II. in March, 1881. The others mentioned here were all
  condemned to penal servitude for life and imprisoned in Schlüsselburg,
  where Kolotkèvitch and Zlatopòlsky died. Frolènko is still alive
  (1902).

She belonged to the Russian aristocracy; her grandfather had won a name
for himself in the guerrilla warfare against Napoleon’s invasion.
Inflexible determination and tireless perseverance were her most
prominent qualities; she was never contented with a single task, even
the most enthralling, but would carry on work in all sorts of different
directions simultaneously. While engaged in making ready for this
attempt on the Tsar’s life she was at the same time organising
revolutionary societies among the youth of the country, doing propaganda
work in the higher ranks of society, and helping us in Odessa with a
secret newspaper that we were starting for South Russia.

But Vera Figner was still only in the developing stage of her strength
and capacities. She was already highly esteemed by all who came near
her, winning their sympathy and confidence; yet even her greatest
friends could hardly suspect the depth of character possessed by this
radiantly beautiful girl. It was fully shown in 1882, when nearly all
her comrades of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_ were in prison, and the few who
had escaped capture had fled into foreign countries; she resolutely
declined to entertain the idea of flight, though the danger of arrest
menaced her at every turn. In 1883 she fell a victim to the treachery of
Degàiev,[53] and was sentenced to death; but “by favour” this was
altered to lifelong penal servitude, and she was immured in the living
grave of the Schlüsselburg fortress, where she still is (1902).

Footnote 53:

  See note, p. 43.

                  *       *       *       *       *

To return to my comrades in the Moscow prison, Spandoni and Tchuikòv;
besides their own narratives of their past experiences I could also
avail myself of their formal indictments, which they had with them. The
chief characteristic of these documents was their entire failure to show
any grounds for the exceptionally heavy sentences inflicted. I will set
down here what the Public Prosecutor had to say against these two
companions of my captivity.

“Athanasius Spandoni was connected with a secret printing press
discovered in Odessa in the house of the married couple Degàiev.” Thus
began the indictment, and it went on to state that he had refused to
make any confession, but that his membership of the secret society
_Naròdnaia Vòlya_ was sworn to by Mme. Degàiev, who also stated that he
had twice visited her house. That was absolutely all. Two visits to a
secret printing office were punished with fifteen years’ penal
servitude!

The “crime” of Tchuikòv was scarcely more serious. His indictment ran as
follows:—

“When Vera Figner was arrested in Kharkov, the authorities in that place
advised us that Vladimir Tchuikòv, among others, had been in
correspondence with her. His house being searched, there were found (1)
implements for setting up type, (2) implements for making false
passports, (3) prussic acid and morphia, (4) various seditious writings
(some printed, some in manuscript), (5) a list giving the names of
different political criminals, (6) lists for the collection of
subscriptions to the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_. Tchuikòv has acknowledged that
he agrees with the principles of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_.” And on these
grounds he was condemned to twenty years’ penal servitude.

The charge brought against the rest of the accused in this case, the
naval and military officers, were of a similar description; and for
these “crimes” they were all condemned to death, the sentence being
actually carried out as regards two of their number.

                  *       *       *       *       *

For a time we three were the only inmates of the Pugatchev tower, but we
were expecting other companions. In about a fortnight after my advent
the condemned in the already mentioned Shebalìn case were to arrive from
Kiëv—four sentenced to penal servitude and four to exile, among the
latter two women. We awaited their coming with the greatest interest,
but when the party arrived only two were brought to our tower, the
exiles Makàr Vasìliev and Peter Dashkièvitch. Paraskovya Shebalina and a
young girl, Barbara Shtchulèpnikòva, also condemned to exile, were of
course taken to the women’s quarters; but the four other men had quite
unexpectedly been sent off to Schlüsselburg, as the outcome of a
conflict with the prison authorities, of which I will give some
particulars.

I have already tried to give some idea of what all convicts must suffer
when their fetters are first put on and their heads shaved. Until the
time of which I write it had been customary (and still is, in the case
of anyone belonging to the “privileged classes”) to defer the
performance of this barbarous ceremony until arrival in Siberia at the
town of Tiumen. But it occurred to the officials that the condemned in
the Shebalìn case (_i.e._ Shebalìn, Pankràtov, Karanlov, and
Borisòvitch) should be fettered and shaved before their transfer to
Moscow. This was hotly resented by the victims themselves, and all the
other “politicals” in the Kiëv prison joined in their protest. The
authorities then employed force to carry out their intention, and
thereupon the prisoners “demonstrated” in the usual fashion, that is, by
breaking windows, destroying furniture, etc. The occurrence was reported
to Petersburg, and thence the order was at once received to send our
four comrades to Schlüsselburg. What that meant I have already
indicated: burial alive in a state of perpetual martyrdom. Most of the
unhappy victims die in a few years, others lose their reason, and many
purposely offer violence to the officials in order to win for themselves
a speedy execution. It is easy, then, to imagine our feelings on
receiving this news about our comrades, especially as there were some
among them at whose door no accusation of any consequence could be laid.
Karanlov, for instance, had only been sentenced to four years’ penal
servitude, the court-martial having found it impossible to inflict a
heavier punishment. He had thereupon married, as his wife would by law
be permitted to follow him to Siberia; and his imprisonment in
Schlüsselburg meant utter separation for them, as he would not even be
allowed to write to her.

The case of the Shebalìns was even more sad. The young wife had scarcely
parted from her husband when her child—an unweaned infant, whom she had
with her in prison—fell ill and died. She herself succumbed to her
grief, and late in the autumn died in the Moscow prison.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Soon after these arrivals there came fresh batches of “politicals,”
until the great prison was full to overflowing. The Lopàtin case
contributed many. Hermann Lopàtin is one of the best-known figures in
our Russian revolutionary movement. In 1884 he had returned from abroad
(whither he had earlier been obliged to flee), in order to resuscitate
the organisation of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, all the active members of
which were in prison in consequence of Degàiev’s treachery. Lopàtin had
almost to begin at the beginning again in reorganising that terrorist
society, and travelled for this purpose all over Russia, establishing
fresh connections everywhere. As he could not depend on his memory he
had to write down the names of members, with notes as to their capacity
for usefulness, and he kept the bit of paper with this list on it always
about his person, meaning to destroy it if in any danger. Unfortunately,
this proved impossible, for one day he was seized in the street by the
secret police and overpowered before he could manage to swallow the
compromising document, though he had actually got it into his mouth. All
whose names were on his list were, of course, arrested, and
imprisonments were made all over Russia. The numerous persons who were
sent to the central prison in Moscow in consequence of Lopàtin’s capture
were for the most part scarcely out of boyhood, and their guilt entirely
consisted in their being named in Lopàtin’s list.

One case that especially moved me was that of Rubìnok, a young student
from Moscow University, aged only nineteen, highly gifted, and developed
intellectually far beyond his years. He was condemned to three years’
exile in Eastern Siberia, and was eventually sent to one of the most
forsaken corners of the earth—in the province of Yakutsk, beyond the
arctic circle. While there he was somehow or other set upon by the
half-savage natives and nearly killed, in consequence of which violent
treatment he lost his reason and became permanently insane.

There was much said in our prison (and throughout Moscow, too) about the
fate of another young student of the Peter Rasoumòvsky Academy. His name
was Kovalièv; he had been arrested on some trifling count, and confined
in the police prison. A certain officer of the guard, Belino-Bshezòvsky,
was also there, under examination for some criminal offence. This
representative of our gilded youth entered into league with the
gendarmerie to take advantage of the young student’s inexperience; and
they planned no less than the concoction of a false attempt at
assassination. The officer pretended to Kovalièv that he himself
belonged to the revolutionists, and tempted the boy with the suggestion
of killing the Public Prosecutor of the Moscow Courts (the present
Minister of Justice, Mouravièv). The unwary youth fell into the trap,
and the _agent provocateur_ furnished him with a loaded revolver; then,
when Kovalièv was to be examined by the Public Prosecutor, he was
suddenly seized on his way to the office by the gendarmes (instructed,
of course, by Belino-Bshezòvsky), searched, and the weapon found on him.
He was at once charged with being caught in an attempt to murder the
Public Prosecutor. In his despair he tried to commit suicide, but was
prevented. The provocative rôle played by the gendarmerie was here too
flagrant to be concealed, and the representations of the victim’s father
were successful in rescuing him from their clutches. An order was sent
from Petersburg to hush up the affair. Rumours were current everywhere
that Mouravièv had been privy to the action of the gendarmerie, his
attempted assassination being designed to fix public notice upon him and
bring him to the front. But I have no means of knowing how far there was
any foundation for this report.



                              CHAPTER XIV
 A NOT INCORRUPTIBLE INSPECTOR—BROKEN FETTERS—RESISTANCE TO THE SHAVING
                     PROCESS—VISITORS IN THE PRISON


In this Moscow prison we “politicals” had frequent opportunities of
intercourse, and we soon managed to get news of the outer world. This
was partly through our discovery that one of the inspectors was
accessible to bribes. This man—we will call him Smirnòv—was about
five-and-twenty, his family an impoverished branch of the smaller rural
nobility. His sister was the mistress of a personage of some importance,
and he owed his situation as prison inspector to her influence.
Reckless, daring, and up to all sorts of dodges, he was ready for any
adventure, and would not even have recoiled from committing a crime if
it had seemed likely to be profitable to him. Scarcely able to read and
write, he had an almost superstitious reverence for anything like
education, and that made him anxious to ingratiate himself with us
“politicals.” He was doubly delighted at being useful to us: first,
because it flattered his vanity, and secondly, because we were very
willing to reward his services with coin of the realm. He had a special
affection for me, and often came to my cell for a gossip about all sorts
of things. Of his own accord he suggested that he might help me to
escape; but I turned every plan over and over, and could see none likely
of success.

“Just listen, though,” he said once; “we can work it out like this: I
can disguise you as a lamplighter or a stove-cleaner, and take you out
of the prison with me, and then we can go abroad together.”

This might indeed have been managed, but there was much to be said
against it; above all, the feeling of solidarity with my comrades
prevented me from wishing to escape alone. The other two, my neighbours,
had severer sentences than mine to undergo, and I could not have borne
to leave them behind. We should have needed a considerable sum of money,
which I had not at command; and then, besides, I should have had this
man on my hands for the rest of our lives. All this led me to decline
his offer.

Meanwhile, my companions had a plan of their own for breaking through
the wall and so getting free, and although they had kept their
preparations carefully secret, Smirnòv got an inkling of them.

“Do you think I don’t know your comrades want to get out?” he said to me
one day. “Only tell them to manage so that I don’t get into trouble. I
shan’t betray them.”

I promised him he should not be let in for anything, and told my
comrades; but they very soon saw their plan was not feasible, and gave
it up. We had no reason to fear that this man would tell tales of us, he
was too much in our hands; but on one occasion I forced him to give
information to the authorities, as I will now relate.

It had come to our knowledge that the ordinary criminals in this prison
managed to disembarrass themselves of their fetters, not only at night,
but through the day, and that this was winked at by the officials. I
therefore resolved to follow their example, and get rid of my chains,
but openly, not in secret.

“Smirnòv,” I said, “bring me a hammer and a nail.”

“What do you want them for?”

“You shall see directly.”

He did as I told him; I stepped on to the iron landing, and in his
presence broke the rivets of my fetters.

“What are you doing?” cried Smirnòv. “I shall have to pay for that!”

“Not a bit. Go at once and tell the governor I have broken my fetters.”

“But I can’t go and denounce you!”

“Don’t be silly,” said I; “do as I say.”

He went, protesting and shaking his head, and soon after called me to go
before the governor. I fastened up my chains with twine in place of the
rivets, and followed him.

“What’s all this?” cried the old man in great excitement. “You’ve broken
your fetters? You are trying to make your escape?”

And he raised his hands in horror at this shocking discovery.

“On the contrary,” replied I. “If I were in your place I should feel
reassured about that, if a prisoner broke his chains openly.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” said the governor; “this is a serious
business.”

“If I were contemplating flight,” continued I, “I should not break my
fetters in the presence of the inspector, but should carefully keep
quiet about it. I merely wanted to get rid of a perfectly unnecessary
inconvenience, that worries me day and night.”

“That’s all very well,” observed the governor, “but you can’t expect me
to give you permission to take them off as you please in this fashion!”

“You needn’t give me permission,” I returned. “You need only behave as
if you know nothing about the matter, and consider everything to be ‘in
good order,’ as you say in your reports.”

“That’s a nice suggestion!” said the old governor, amused and half
relenting. “But what do you suppose my superiors would think of it?”

“Unless you tell them, I don’t see that they will ever have cause to
think about it,” I replied. “It will never occur to the Governor of
Moscow to examine whether my chains are fastened with rivets or with
string.”

“Then if an inspection is made you will be wearing your fetters?” he
asked, laughing.

“Of course! You see, I’ve come to you in full dress,” and I pointed to
my tied-up chains.

We parted quite amicably; and I took it that informal permission not to
wear our fetters had been conceded. It was not so easy to get
dispensation from having our heads shaved; yet that we also achieved.
According to rule, half the head should have been shaved every month;
and there was no getting out of this save by a downright refusal to
submit. This we accordingly made; and the barber reported it to the
governor, who sent for us to come to him singly.

“What do you want me to do now?” said the good-humoured old man to me.

“Simply to report to the Governor of Moscow that such and such prisoners
refuse to let their heads be shaved, and declare that they will offer
determined resistance if forced. We have nothing against you,” I
continued, “but this is our only way of appealing publicly against
barbarous and humiliating usage.”

Whether he transmitted our protest I do not know; but anyhow, we were
not again asked to undergo this degrading process until the end of our
stay in this prison.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Russian prison regulations provide that prisoners belonging to the
different categories shall be treated differently: the “administrative
exiles” less severely than those banished to Siberia after a regular
trial; and the latter again somewhat better than those condemned to
penal servitude. But by the end of a month or two we had so contrived
that this gradation was no longer apparent. We hard-labour prisoners
only differed from the other “politicals” in having to wear the convict
dress, and in not being allowed—as they were—to see our ladies, who were
imprisoned in their own special tower. These interviews were only
permitted to them when those who wished to meet were related, married,
or betrothed to each other. But this was soon arranged. Various couples
had an understanding on the subject, and addressed simultaneous
petitions to the Governor of Moscow, asking to be allowed interviews
with each other, as they were betrothed. In most cases this was a purely
fictitious engagement, as the staff very well knew, and was only
designed to vary the monotony of prison life; but not seldom the
pretence led to a veritable attachment, as may easily be imagined. These
were mostly young people of from eighteen to eight-and-twenty, and the
nature of their surroundings shed a romantic glamour over their
intercourse. The young pair met in the office of the prison, a dreary
apartment with grated windows; and every word was listened to by an
official. Prison life lent a poetical and spiritualised expression to
their features, and there was much to awaken mutual interest and
compassion. Sometimes this affection remained purely platonic; but in
some cases an actual wedding was the upshot. Of course, in the latter
event the young couple received the hearty sympathy of all their
comrades, who also had personal reasons for rejoicing. The ceremony
always took place in the prison chapel, and was a great occasion which
pleasantly varied our dull existence.

Prisoners were allowed at intervals to receive visitors from outside.
These also must be near relations, and often other friends and
acquaintances gave themselves out as betrothed to such and such a
prisoner in order to be allowed entry. It occasionally happened in this
way that an awkward situation came about, if a young man or a girl
appeared to be betrothed to two or more different people; but the
solution was generally a satisfactory one in the end.

These visits were received in the office to which we had first been
introduced, but the room on these occasions took on a very different
appearance. The old captain sat in his place busy with his ledgers. By
the door stood the inspector in full uniform, with revolver and
cartridge-bag at his waist and his long sabre at his side; and round the
walls would be grouped the prisoners with their visitors. The dim light
falling through the grated windows shone on many a characteristic scene.
All classes and ages were represented—young and old, men, women, and
even children. Here would be a doctor or lawyer accompanied by his wife
talking to their brother, a banished student. There an old
peasant-woman, who had made the long journey by the Volga from some
distant province to bid good-bye to her favourite son, would tell him
the village news or bitterly lament her difficulty in living now he had
been taken from her. Close by, the scions of a noble race—Prince
Volhònsky and his princess—would be chatting with Malyòvany, his uncle;
or Senator Shtshulèpnikov would sermonise his young daughter for having
allowed herself to be drawn into the revolutionary movement, whereby she
had now to suffer the penalty of exile to Siberia. All around would be
the babble of voices—condolences, arguments, gossip, even jokes. One
woman would furtively wipe away a tear as she bowed a grief-stricken
head; while another would break into uncontrollable sobbing, because the
sight of some beloved face now pale and haggard from long confinement
and anxiety had robbed her of self-command. As everywhere else
throughout the world, laughter and weeping, hope and despair, went side
by side; only here in prison emotion is more openly avowed, ceremony
more easily dispensed with, and franker expression given to the
feelings. Those who here sought out their friends or relatives speedily
got acquainted with one another and with all the prisoners whom they
were accustomed to see. Among the “politicals,” as Socialists, there are
no distinctions of rank or privilege; and the prison atmosphere soon
exercised its levelling influence on all, and bound together members of
every class with the common tie of sorrow and sympathy. Once only was
the rule broken, and the announcement of a visitor’s name and position
fixed all eyes upon him.

A grey-headed man in the garb of the Russian lower middle-class—a long
kaftan and broad girdle—had entered the room.

“Whom do you want?” asked the captain, looking up from his books.

“I should like to speak to a person whom you have here in the prison.
Làzarev is his name,” replied the stranger.

“Have you a permit?”

“Certainly, certainly; here it is,” said the man in the kaftan, and held
out the paper.

The captain settled his glasses and read. Suddenly up he jumped as if he
had had a blow, and began to stammer out a thousand apologies. “Pray sit
down, Count! I really did not recognise you!” And then to the inspector,
“Hi, Ivànov!” he cried, “ tell them to send Làzarev. The Count wants to
see him.”

The whole prison seemed waked up. Bells were rung, and people ran about
calling out: “ Làzarev! Send Làzarev! Count Leo Tolstoi has come to see
him!”

Yegor Làzarev, a peasant by birth, a very intelligent and well-educated
man, was from Count Tolstoi’s district. He was to be sent to Eastern
Siberia by administrative order for a term of three years, simply
because he, being a lawyer, had defended his poorer neighbours of the
village in various cases of exaction by officials.



                               CHAPTER XV
  POLITICAL CONDITION OF RUSSIA AND THE REVOLUTIONARY PARTY—OUR LITTLE
        SOCIETY—FÊTE DAYS—PROHIBITED VISITS-A LECTURE ON MANNERS


At the time of which I am writing the reactionary policy of the new Tsar
was already clearly indicated. Four years had passed since the accession
of Alexander III., and signs of his domestic policy were visible in
frequent death-sentences, favouring of Anti-Semitism (which had sprung
up in various towns in south-west Russia), the appointment of the
universally detested Count Dmitri Tolstoi as Minister of the Interior,
the institution of new regulations at the Universities, not only for
students, but for professors, and so on. In spite of all this there were
still some incurable optimists who hoped this might prove but a brief
transition period, soon to be followed by radical reforms; they even
anticipated the granting of a Constitution to the country. I remember
well how various educated people-lawyers, physicians, etc.—would, when
conversing with us, make hopeful prophecies: “You’ll see, in five years
we shall have the Constitution.”

Undoubtedly many of the younger revolutionists shared these hopes; if
not all, at any rate the majority believed that sooner or later the
Terrorists would “remove” Alexander III., as they had his father, and
that then, as a matter of course, “the Constitution _must_ come.” Some
were so firmly convinced of this that when I ventured to express a
doubt, bets were often offered me as to how few years would elapse
before the great event came to pass. “Before we have reached our place
of exile Alexander III. will be gone,” declared many young people.

This self-deception had one advantage in helping them to bear their fate
and keep up their courage; but these castles in the air were doomed to a
speedy destruction. As I have said already, the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_ was
nearing its collapse, and the Terrorists were now scarcely any real
menace to the Government. The original trusted leaders of the society
were either dead or languishing in prison, and their successors showed
none of the capacity needed to carry on a conspiracy of that sort;
while, on the other hand, the police had learnt much, knew better how to
spread their nets, and left the young conspirators no time to develop
their powers. The untried and unskilfully managed societies were run to
earth before they could undertake anything definite, and the unity and
interdependence that characterised the original band of members
disappeared.

In 1884 various fractions of the society came to life again. There was
the _Young Naròdnaia Vòlya_, whose members carried on a sort of minor
terrorism; that is to say, they directed their daggers and bombs against
the lesser officials, governors of gaols, agrarian and industrial
employers, etc., holding that there should be an immediate forcible
answer made to every act of tyranny by constituted authorities against
the workers. There were the “Bombists,” who swore by dynamite as the
sole and only remedy; the “Militarists,” who thought a conspiracy within
the army the best hope. Finally a group entirely new to Russia made its
appearance—the Social Democrats, among whom I was numbered.

In our prison at Moscow all these different views had their adherents,
and naturally the liveliest discussions took place, though their course
was always fairly peaceful. Notwithstanding all our differences of
opinion, we formed together a sort of big family, in which there was
absolutely no distinction of high or low, rich or poor. All were equal,
all shared alike.

The prison food was beneath criticism; even the most robust at their
hungriest could scarcely swallow a spoonful of the repulsive malodorous
broth in wooden bowls brought to our cells at midday. This is explained
by the fact that the sum originally provided by Government for our
maintenance was extremely small; and on its way through to us a great
part of it found its way into the bottomless pockets of officials great
and small, among whom there is an organised system of general
peculation. The big cauldrons used for cooking the food of several
thousand prisoners were filled up with the worst materials that were
procurable; and we “politicals,” after a very few specimens of it,
decided to feed at our own expense. So we founded a commissariat union,
and elected as chief, to whose care our domestic economy should be
entrusted, Làzarev, the peasant-lawyer, whom Tolstoi had visited. All
the money that we had at command—either what had been given in keeping
to the prison authorities on our arrival or what was sent us by friends
and relations—was handed over to our chief of commissariat, and he had
to arrange our dietary so that all should share alike. In the morning we
had tea, milk, and bread _ad libitum_. For dinner at midday we had a
meal—generally of two courses—prepared from the provisions in our larder
by one of the ordinary criminals hired by us as cook. In the evening
there was tea and bread again. Nobody could say that our table was
exactly luxurious; but then our means were extremely limited. Our poor
housekeeper had often to rack his brains over the problem of making both
ends meet; and he at last hit on the expedient of buying horse-flesh for
us. Beef was cheap enough—ten kopecks (about 2½_d._) a pound, if I
remember rightly; but horseflesh came to only about half that price, and
we agreed to try it. It proved quite eatable, if somewhat tough and
tasteless; but two or three among us were dainty, and declared that the
meat gave them indigestion, and they could not stand it. As the rest of
us believed this to be pure imagination, and simply the result of
prejudice, our “chief” determined to use a little art. He suggested that
he might buy beef for these “invalids”; but he really just had some of
the horse-flesh cooked up a little differently from the rest, and set it
before them. The result was excellent; our epicures much relished their
“beefsteak,” and declared it made them feel sick to see us eating horse;
while we had some trouble in keeping our faces straight! This lasted the
whole time of our stay in Moscow, and not one of our gourmands ever once
complained of indigestion again! When afterwards we let out that for
months they had eaten and enjoyed horse-flesh, of course they were
furious, and asserted—to the common amusement of the others—that they
had always thought the meat had a queer taste.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Besides our own friends there were many people personally unknown to us
who cared for our material needs, I mean the members of the “Red Cross
of the Revolution,” of which mention has been made in an earlier chapter
as the “old clothes society.” These were chiefly women, who undertook
with much zeal the small but very charitable and indispensable task of
providing for the political prisoners and exiles. Many a one, left
deserted in the world, had reason to value the unselfish activity of
these good Samaritans. Often enough have I seen the grateful emotion of
some lonely soul, when the strange hand of a kind woman—one of the
society’s members—bestowed on him cheerfully some useful and hardly
spared article. Our little company in the prison of Moscow seems to have
come off particularly well in this way. Long before the commencement of
the journey to Siberia our benefactresses warned us to let them have a
list of what we should be needing for our travels. When it is remembered
that we were over fifty persons, and that before many of us lay a
journey of more than half a year, it is evident how much opportunity
there was for the thoughtful and minute care of these noble women. There
were hundreds of little things wanted that gave them not only time and
trouble, but personal inconvenience to procure; and their
self-sacrificing exertions to lighten the lot of the captives were
infinitely touching.

Easter and Christmas are special feast days in Russia. The Russian
revolutionists have definitely renounced all religious creeds, and there
are many among them who in any case would have nothing to do with the
Orthodox Russian Church—Jews, Germans, Poles, etc. Nevertheless, those
in prison or in places of banishment always take part whenever possible
in the common festivals of the people; and these days of rejoicing are
doubly welcomed when they come to break the dreary routine of
prison-life. Relations, friends, and the Red Cross ladies send food and
even dainties to the prisons, and the inmates hold high revel. In the
Moscow prison we had a specially merry time on Easter Eve. We had
petitioned the Governor of Moscow for leave to pass the night before
Easter together, according to Russian custom. This was conceded; and we
all, including the women, assembled in the quarters of the
“administratives,” where the rooms are large, because the prisoners are
there grouped together, not confined in single cells. All manner of good
things had been sent us—Easter cakes, eggs, hams, poultry, and all that
is customary, including some bottles of light wine and beer—so that our
Easter table was a magnificent sight.[54] Under the superintendence of
the old governor and his staff we spent the evening and half the night
in a merry fashion not often witnessed in a prison. Songs were sung,
there were jokes and laughter; finally a harmonica appeared, and the
young people began to dance. Yet, despite so much hearty and unfeigned
cheerfulness, not one of us could forget our real condition; indeed, the
very sight of gaiety brought to the minds of many of us remembrance of
home, where our dear ones were at this moment celebrating the feast-day,
though with many sad thoughts of the absent.

Footnote 54:

  In Russia it is the custom at Easter in every house to spread a large
  table with cold dishes of all descriptions, and the master of the
  house invites every visitor to partake of the feast, which they are
  bound to do, eating and drinking standing. This “Easter table” is kept
  going throughout the festival time.—_Trans._

For us hard-labour men this was the first chance we had had of getting
to know our women fellow-prisoners. The “administratives” met them not
only in visiting hours, but in the courtyard, although the latter was
supposed to be against rules. Those condemned to hard labour, on the
contrary, were not admitted to the visitors’ room. After this Easter
festival, however, even we “deprived of all rights” managed to break
through the regulations. Under the pretext that we had some business in
the office we had ourselves conducted across the big yard, and the
warder left us at the door, supposing we should go straight on down the
corridor. Instead of that we raced across the courtyard to the door of
the women’s quarters. The flustered warder came tearing after us,
calling us back; but we had reached our goal, our ladies were at their
door, and we could exchange a few friendly words with them. Of course,
this was only a defiant frolic; we took pleasure in trampling on the
hated prison rules, and the authorities saw nothing very wicked in it.
The prohibition of meeting had no sense in it whatever, as in a few
weeks’ time all the “politicals” were to travel in company together to
Siberia. In this, as in many other cases, we were unnecessarily
thwarted, simply because in paragraph so-and-so of the regulations this
or that is forbidden.

These regulations are not nearly so strictly kept as regards the
ordinary criminals, who are often allowed to wander all about a Russian
prison without supervision, and manage to get admitted even to the
women’s quarters. Moreover, it not infrequently happens that a criminal
who has money at his disposal is allowed by the warders and overseers to
be out all night in the town, where he amuses himself or goes about his
own business. So far as the treatment of prisoners goes, we “politicals”
are only too glad to be put on the footing of “common criminals”; which
but seldom happens to us, however. Yet in one respect the “politicals”
have an advantage—I mean in the demeanour of the prison staff towards
them. Every official, high or low, knows well that he cannot go beyond a
certain point with them, and that he must behave with courtesy. This
unwritten law arose from the fact that for generations the “politicals”
belonged exclusively to the educated and privileged classes, and also
from their proud conviction that they have only acted according to the
dictates of reason and conscience, which upholds them in the firm
feeling of innocence, and makes them fiercely jealous for the
preservation of both their own self-respect and their dignity in the
eyes of others. If any official ventures to ignore this sentiment he may
count on energetic protest, and in such cases the prison is often the
scene of a bitter conflict that may lead to tragic results. As a slight
example I may relate the following incident.

A certain great personage had come from Petersburg—Galkin Vrassky, the
head of the controlling department for all Russian prisons. His position
demanded the deepest awe and subservience from all minor officials, and
he himself was fully conscious of his power and bore himself
accordingly. He was a Privy Counsellor and extremely pompous. Before his
promised visit to our prison we had heard that it was this gentleman’s
custom not to uncover his head when entering the cells, but to keep his
hat on all the time. We instantly agreed together that if he behaved so
here, the first of us whose cell he visited should teach him a lesson in
manners.

Galkin Vrassky came, attended by an imposing suite, and accompanied
by—among others—Prince Galitzin, the Vice-Governor of Moscow. He began
his rounds with our Pugatchev Tower, and went first to the cell of Peter
Dashkièvitch. Dashkièvitch had been a theological student; he was a man
of very calm but unyielding temperament, and permeated to an uncommon
degree with the instinct of justice and fairness. It was now incumbent
on him to beard this haughty official, who had scarcely begun the
stereotyped question—“Have you any complaints to make?”—when
Dashkièvitch interrupted him, saying quietly: “It is very impolite of
you, sir, to enter my apartment without removing your hat.”

Galkin Vrassky reddened to the roots of his hair, turned on his heel and
left the cell, the whole company following him in silence.

“In what case was he condemned?” we heard him ask, as he stood on the
landing.

“In the Kiëv trial,” someone answered.

“Aha, one of those fellows who made trouble in the prison over there!”
he said in a satisfied tone.

He visited the rest of us, holding his hat in his hand most politely,
but he did not forget to revenge himself on Dashkièvitch after his own
fashion.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Dashkièvitch’s sentence had been “banishment to the less distant
provinces of Siberia,” a fairly mild punishment; but Vrassky now ordered
his transportation to the furthest wilds of the country, and he was sent
to Tunka, on the borders of Mongolia.



                              CHAPTER XVI
   PREPARATIONS FOR OUR TRAVELS—THE BOAT JOURNEY BY THE VOLGA AND THE
          KAMA—EKATERINBURG—ON THE TROIKA—“TO EUROPE, TO ASIA”


The spring of 1885 came, and we began to make ready for our long
journey. At the outset arose the very important question, what luggage
could we take? The rules prescribed that those “deprived of all rights”
should not have more than 25 lbs. in weight. The equipment provided by
Government weighed that by itself; so that all our own belongings would
have to be abandoned, including books, of course. This would have been a
severe loss, for in Moscow our private library had grown considerably.
Count Tolstoi had given us an edition of his collected works in twelve
volumes, and also a _History of Russia_ in twenty-nine volumes. Happily,
however, the authorities decided that only the gross weight of the
luggage should be counted for the whole detachment of exiles; so that as
the “administratives” were allowed 5 pood (about 180 lbs.) apiece, and
many of them had but few possessions, we managed to get our books in.

As everything we possessed had been through the hands of the officials,
of course there was no forbidden literature in our library; nevertheless
we were told to submit it all anew to inspection, and in the course of
this the appointed censor had opportunities for exhibiting to our
delighted gaze his special qualifications for the post. He was a high
official, and had graduated in jurisprudence at Petersburg. Our friend
Rubìnok turned to him with the question whether he might take Karl
Marx’s _Capital_ with him.

“Why, how can you take somebody else’s capital with you?” asked our
censor in a surprised tone.

“It is my own,” said Rubìnok, not comprehending.

“Well, if it is your own, of course you can take it,” was the reply,
“only you must hand it over to the officer commanding the convoy, who
takes charge of all money.”

We, who saw the joke, had great difficulty in repressing our mirth at
the idea of Rubìnok’s running off with the apparently unknown Karl
Marx’s property!

                  *       *       *       *       *

When the time of departure drew nigh the idea was mooted of giving some
substantial testimonial to the worthy old Captain Maltchèvsky, our
governor. He learned with pleasure of the project, but begged us not to
spend on him any of the little money we possessed, as we should need it
on our long journey. I forget whether in the end any present was
actually bought or not. At all events, the old gentleman was a great
exception among his kind. I have only known one other instance of
“politicals” desiring to testify their gratitude to a prison governor in
such a manner. Yet an event happened at the last moment which changed
our hitherto friendly feeling for Captain Maltchèvsky into resentment
and dislike.

During the whole eight months of our sojourn in Moscow we had been on a
perfectly amicable footing with the prison staff. Our independent
proceeding in discarding our fetters and our revolt against head-shaving
had been silently condoned at the time; but it was just these two points
that led to a rupture of relations on the day of our departure. We were
informed that we must now submit to the head-shaving and chain-riveting
processes, because the officer who was to command our convoy insisted on
it. We roundly refused to comply; and the “administratives,” who were
themselves exempt from the proceeding, declared their intention of
supporting us in our resolve.

The hour for mustering the party arrived. We determined to keep
together, and on no account to go singly into the office for our
enrolment. The staff saw at once that any attempt to use force would
lead to a row; so they resolved to outwit us. We were given to
understand that the idea of subjecting us to the barbarous proceeding
had been thought better of, and we were committed to the charge of the
convoy officer. The party was almost ready to start, when we three
“hard-labour men” were suddenly told that if we liked we could get a
medical certificate from the doctor to excuse us from travelling on foot
when we reached Siberia, as those condemned to penal servitude were
supposed to do. We said we were quite willing to be examined for this
purpose; but scarcely were we separated from our companions than a party
of warders hidden behind the door surrounded us. We saw immediately that
we had fallen into a trap, and determined to resist to our utmost. We
kept close together, and struck out with feet and fists when the warders
advanced on us; but, of course, we were ultimately overpowered by their
superior numbers. We were dragged away and each held forcibly down on a
bench while the barber shaved the half of our heads and the blacksmith
riveted on our fetters. Captain Maltchèvsky stood by the while and gave
the orders. This performance of his was enough to alter our sentiments
towards him, and our parting was distinctly cool.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Our journey began on a beautiful morning in the middle of May when
spring had just made its appearance in Moscow. The sunshine was bright
and warm, and the scent of spring was in the air. Our mood was by no
means in consonance with this aspect of outward things; but most of us
elected to go on foot to the station. Our procession must have been an
odd sight. Convicts with fettered feet and grey prison garb marched
along beside other men and women in ordinary clothes. Most of us were
quite young; few had reached middle-age. Of the twelve women in our
party three were voluntarily accompanying their husbands to Siberia.

The last violent scene had depressed us all, and we traversed in silence
the quieter streets of Moscow, where the few passers-by paused to look
at us, and here and there faces stared from the windows. The station,
which we reached after a short tramp, had been cleared of people; only
some gendarmes, prison officials, and porters were on the platform.
Police were keeping guard all round, and nobody who had not a special
order was allowed through to the train reserved for us. When we
“politicals” were established in the places assigned to us, a few
persons—relations of the prisoners—arrived to say good-bye. The
gendarmes would not let them come near to the carriages, and we had to
shout our farewell greetings.

“Good-bye! Good luck! Don’t forget us!” sounded from the barred windows.

“Keep up your courage! We’ll meet again soon!” came back the response.

“Let us sing something together,” called out somebody. We had formed a
choral society in prison, and now started a song of Little Russia—“The
Ferryman.” Slowly the train was set in motion, and as we glided away the
affecting strains of the beautiful melody accompanied us. Many could not
restrain their tears, and sobs were heard which the rattle of the train
soon drowned. With faces pressed against the bars of the windows we
gazed back at Moscow as long as it could be seen. Then came the
outskirts, and then our eyes were refreshed by the sight of broad
meadows.

When we halted at the next station there were a good many people on the
platform—peasants and workmen. Many of them came up to the carriage
windows unhindered, and seemed to be offering things to us.

“Here, take it, in the Virgin’s name!” said a voice close by me. I
looked out, and was aware of an old peasant woman who held out a
kopeck[55] to me.

Footnote 55:

  Value one farthing.—_Trans._

“I don’t need it, mother; give it to someone who does,” I said; and felt
my heart warm towards this kindly old woman of the people.

“Take it, take it, my dear!” she insisted.

“Well, as a remembrance, then.” I agreed; and I kept the little copper
coin for a long time before I eventually lost it.

A whole chain of recollections was started in my mind by this
occurrence, and I sank deep in thought. The further we went from Moscow,
the sadder became my spirits; I felt as if I were leaving behind me
there a host of friends I should never see again. I did not want to talk
to anyone, but gazed silently out of the window. The line ran through a
factory district; the stations were crowded, and along the railway banks
we saw many groups of workpeople. Men and women in brightly coloured
cotton garments stopped and called out after the train, making
expressive gestures. Whether they knew us for exiles on our way to
Siberia and meant to send us a message of sympathy I cannot tell.
Perhaps it is the custom in that countryside, whence many prisoners are
transported, to express in this way that feeling of compassion towards
the “children of misfortune”[56] so common among the Russian people.

Footnote 56:

  By this name the common people throughout Russia and Siberia designate
  all prisoners.

On the following morning we arrived at Nijni Novgorod, whence we were to
journey by boat to Perm, by the Volga and its tributary the Kama. Our
party attracted much attention both at the station and on the way to the
quay. The married and betrothed couples walked in front, arm in arm, and
the rest of us followed, the escort surrounding us all. Two large
cabins, one for the men and one for the women, were assigned to us on
the big barge, which was taken in tow by a river steamer. Here we were
rather comfortably lodged, and we were all in common allowed free access
to the roomy deck, which was enclosed by iron netting at the sides and
overhead. Food we provided for ourselves, and on that head had nothing
to complain of, thanks to the kindness of our friends and to the
provident care of Làzarev, our elected chief or _stàrosta_.

The voyage lasted some days; the weather was uninterruptedly fine; and
we sat on deck from early morning till late evening, revelling in the
charming scenes which passed before our eyes, on this giant among
European rivers and on its tributary stream. Especially lovely was it
towards sunset, when our choir, which boasted some exceptionally fine
voices, would sing our favourite songs. As one sat, with head supported
against the iron netting, and eyes following the shining ripples lit by
exquisite fairy-like tints, the impression made on one by those
beautiful sad songs was never to be forgotten. Gradually the colour
would fade from the sky, and the stars shine down from a cloudless
heaven, to be mirrored in the glassy surface of the great river; and
everything around me—the river, the stars, the songs—would recall to my
mind another royal stream, the mighty Dnieper, by whose banks my
childhood had been spent.

                  *       *       *       *       *

“What are you thinking of? Why are you so sad?” on one such evening a
young “administrative” asked me. She was a girl of about twenty, with
whom I had become acquainted during the journey. We were soon engaged in
intimate and friendly talk. She could understand my mood, and
sympathised heartily. She was an unusually interesting creature of
peculiar and, some might say, eccentric character, but of keen
intelligence. She told me how she had come to adopt the principles of
Socialism, and what kind of life she had quitted to join the
revolutionary movement. Like so many others at that time, she had been
possessed by the longing to do something for the people—the peasants.
Where and how to begin she did not know, and she could find no one to
advise her. She tried to discover some way for herself, and read
everything she could get hold of that bore on the subject. At last,
against her parents’ wishes, she left her home in South Russia for
Petersburg, where she hoped to find someone who could help her. In the
course of her quest, and before she had arrived at any definite solution
of the problems that perplexed her, she was arrested, and was now being
sent to Siberia for three years’ banishment. Like hundreds of others,
this noble-hearted girl had expended her strength and sacrificed her
happiness to no purpose, without benefit to others, without attaining
her own peace of mind; a victim to the cramping and illiberal political
conditions that reign in our native land. She died by her own hand in
Siberia some time after this.

From Perm we were taken by rail to Ekaterinburg, where we arrived after
a wearisome day’s journey. Here we spent the night; and next day our
party, consisting entirely of “politicals” with their escort, was to
drive to Tiumen, the first town within the borders of Siberia. The
construction of the Siberian railway was only just being begun, and the
journey—now very simple—was then attended by all manner of difficulties.

At the outset we had a disagreement with the authorities that might have
had serious consequences. A number of _troïkas_[57] had been provided
for the transportation of ourselves, our escort, and the luggage; in
each of them four prisoners and two soldiers were to go, which, with the
driver, made seven persons. The younger members of our party thought
this too many, and appealed to the officer, Captain Volkov, who had
accompanied us from Moscow (and with whom I had previously travelled
from Kiëv), to arrange that only three of us and two soldiers should go
in each carriage, or, if he preferred, four of us and only one soldier.
As there were not enough carriages for this arrangement the captain
refused the request; and our young Hotspurs flatly swore that they would
not get in. In other words, they would oblige the soldiers to use force
with them, and that would naturally lead to a battle, the results of
which might be very unpleasant. The _ispravnik_[58] appeared, and
declared that he could not hire any more carriages, as this number had
been specially ordered by his chief. There was much arguing up and down,
during which several of the young men and two of the women got very
angry. We elders, on the contrary, thought the matter not sufficiently
important to warrant a conflict which might well result in the despatch
of the “administratives” to distant stations for increased periods of
exile, and of ourselves perhaps to Schlüsselburg.

Footnote 57:

  Carriages with three horses harnessed abreast in a peculiar manner,
  the two outside facing somewhat outwards. The middle horse is trained
  to trot very fast, and the two outside ones to canter.—_Trans._

Footnote 58:

  Head of the district police.—_Trans._

“I beg you to get into the carriages,” urged Volkov; and the _ispravnik_
joined in his persuasions.

“No, we will not. Use force if you like!” cried voices from our midst.

“We shall have to report you as refusing to obey orders.”

“Do as you please!” was the answer.

It is absolutely against the rules of our societies not to stand by each
other in all dealings with the authorities, whatever the occasion.
Despite the fact that the majority among us saw no ground for persisting
in this revolt, we were at the mercy of the hot-headed youngsters, and
the situation was becoming strained. A struggle seemed inevitable; but
some of us had the happy idea of trying the practical experiment of
fitting ourselves into one of the vehicles, to see whether the official
arrangement were feasible or not. The trial was made, and it turned out
that with a little goodwill it was quite possible to find room for seven
persons in each _troïka_. In face of this simple fact, the malcontents
could hardly maintain their attitude; so with a little further grumbling
and delay they gave in. We had not gone far before each carriage was
lightened of one passenger; the soldiers preferred to ride on the
baggage-waggons, and only one was left to guard each four prisoners; so
we were more comfortable, and everything was peaceably settled.

During the voyage on the Volga and Kama we had fallen into various
groups of friends, who now naturally wished to keep together during the
land journey. The idea suggested itself of giving our ladies the right
to choose their cavaliers, and this plan found favour with the majority;
but there were one or two who objected to any sort of “woman’s
privileges,” and even some others who disliked travelling in female
society, and declared themselves _hors de concours_. These latter
incorrigible mysogynists were, as may be supposed, the youngest among
us.

This travelling by _troïka_ has, as is well known, a special charm of
its own. It can scarcely be called driving; one flies and rushes along
at a most exhilarating pace. On that side of the Ural Mountains spring
was only just beginning; everything was budding and sprouting, and the
air was full of song and other happy sounds of young life.

We flew along great stretches of the highway, raising enormous clouds of
whirling dust. Our drivers cheered on their horses with cries and
whistling, continually urging them to yet greater speed. At first we sat
by fours in the carriages, generally two men and two women; but soon we
changed places at every halt, and then five or six people might be seen
in one carriage, while only two would be left in another. Here there
would be chatter, joking, and songs; there, earnest quiet talk not to be
overheard by the guards—words of far-reaching import being perhaps
spoken in those whispered conferences. The intimate life in prison had
brought many into close relations that had been strengthened during the
long journey by rail and boat; and the drive together now gave fresh
opportunities for bringing the fellow-sufferers nearer to one another.

[Illustration:

  SIBERIAN HALTING-STATION (ÉTAPE)
    To face page 146
]

Every day we left two stages behind us, each from fifty to sixty versts
(about thirty-three to forty English miles), on which the horses were
often only changed once, the change being made with lightning rapidity,
as the fresh steeds were generally waiting ready harnessed for our
hurrying procession. While the drivers were occupied over this business
we usually made a hasty meal, buying provisions from the market-women
waiting in the yard of the posting-station—hard-boiled eggs, milk,
bread, etc. The halting-station (_étape_) for the night we generally
reached early, long before twilight set in. Here the first thing was to
prepare our meal—dinner and supper in one; that was the task of the
_stàrosta_ and some volunteer assistants. Afterwards we stayed out in
the open air as long as possible. Songs were sung in chorus; groups and
couples wandered about in confidential talk; or sometimes we held formal
debates, of a very animated description.

On one of the earliest days of our journey we made our first halt in the
open, far from any posting-station. We all got out and stood before a
boundary post; it was that one so often described, of such sad renown,
which bears in engraved letters the two words, “Europe,” “Asia.”

It was now the beginning of June. A year and three months had gone by
since my arrest in Freiburg, and I had now crossed the border between
two continents. The sight of this landmark, passed by thousands driven
into exile, brought thronging many gloomy thoughts. I had passed fifteen
months in German and Russian gaols. “How many years have I now to linger
in a Siberian prison?” I asked myself. “Shall I ever see this signpost
again on a return journey? or shall I find my grave over yonder in
Siberia?”



                              CHAPTER XVII
     IN TIUMEN—PARTING—ON THE SIBERIAN RIVERS—A STARTLING PROPOSAL


The town of Tiumen was at that time noted for the disputes that were
continually arising between the political exiles and the authorities. We
dreaded lest our party might be obliged to sustain a battle of this
sort, the causes of which were known to us of old from the letters of
various comrades; so we had intended to arrange together betimes how we
should behave under given circumstances, what we must insist on, and in
what manner we should conduct our dealings with the powers above us. But
it was so difficult to get any orderly discussion during the journey,
that after all we reached Tiumen without having made any definite plan
of action.

Tiumen was then the place whence exiles took their several ways
according to their ultimate destination. Our party was to separate here,
some going south-west, others north-east. Among the latter were the
hard-labour prisoners, the judicially banished exiles, and some of the
“administratives.” Except us convicts none knew to what town or village
they were bound; they did not even know whether they were to go north or
south from Tiumen. Now, the difference in climate which this might mean,
even if between places in the same province of Siberia could be greater
than between Norway and Italy. The anxiety of the “administratives” in
awaiting a decision can be imagined, as so much depended for them on the
direction in which they were to be taken.

At the very gates of the prison we were within an ace of a squabble with
the officials; they wanted to take our ladies to a female prison far
away from ours. We opposed this, because such a separation would have
upset all our feeding arrangements, besides being otherwise very
unwelcome to us all, and the officials finally yielded to our
representations.

We were only to remain for a few days in Tiumen, so our chief subject
for anxiety was soon settled; most of the “administratives” were bound
for the Steppes Government, and would be sent to the southern part of
the province of Tobolsk—a relatively pleasant neighbourhood. But we were
informed at the same time that they would travel by way of the
_etàppuy_, or convoy-stations, which would be by no means pleasant. To
be taken by that route, _i.e._ by land, means a journey of some weeks
under most uncomfortable conditions, and with all manner of hardships
that can perfectly well be avoided by the adoption of the route by
water, on either barge or steamboat. The choice of this wearisome route
has been a frequent source of trouble with the parties of “politicals.”
The officials, therefore, were quite accustomed to protests on the
subject; but either on grounds of convenience, or for some other reason
not vouchsafed to us, they stuck to their proposed arrangement. Our
friends who were to go southward resolved to keep up all possible
opposition, and we all agreed to support what we considered their
perfectly reasonable attitude. We held heated consultations, and
ultimately it was decided to send a telegram to the governor of the
province, petitioning him that the journey of the “administratives”
should be made by boat.

The appointed day of departure arrived, and the “administratives” were
sent for to go singly into the office, but we others would not allow
them to leave the prison. If the staff had resorted to force there would
undoubtedly have been a serious struggle, but all passed off quietly, as
they gave in for the time being; only, however, to lay a trap for us
later. Instead of answering our telegram by another, the governor
appeared in person (of course, he may merely have come over by chance
from Tobolsk) and examined into the affair. He then declared himself
quite willing that our comrades should travel by boat, according to our
request; and this promise, given by the highest available authority, was
sufficient for us, our minds were forthwith at rest. But unfortunately,
as will appear hereafter, the highest authority had simply lied to us.

Soon after this the parting came; those of us going northward from
Tobolsk and those bound for Eastern Siberia received orders to make
ready for the start. There was a good deal to do, as a journey of some
months was in question; also our common housekeeping had to be wound up,
the money and provisions divided among the different parties according
to their respective needs and the distance they had to travel. Besides
this, small sums were set apart for any “administratives” or other
exiles who were unprovided with means, for use in emergency on their
first arrival at their destinations.

The parting was no light matter to us. During the next few days small
groups and isolated couples would be seen wandering up and down the
prison yard, deep in endless and engrossing talk. Most of us had first
become acquainted in the Moscow prison or during the journey; but apart
from the more intimate friendships that had been formed among us, we had
all been drawn very near to each other in the course of our half-year’s
sojourn under the same roof. Of course, in view of the separation many
resolutions were made of keeping up friendships, and of never forgetting
one another, whatever happened. Sad, sad, that external circumstances
should too often prove stronger than the firmest resolutions, and even
than the heart’s desire! After two or three years, with thousands of
miles between, and every possible hindrance put in the way of
correspondence, friends are gradually lost sight of, and the thought of
them even passes from the mind. With how many of those comrades did I
share the hope of one day meeting again! Eighteen years have passed
since then, and I have only seen one of them again.

As to the subsequent lot of our “administratives,” we learned later
that, the party being a large one, the officials had declared themselves
unable to carry out the arrangement expressly promised by the governor;
and as our comrades refused to go voluntarily by the land route, they
were dragged forcibly by soldiers from the prison and packed into the
carriages. Much rough usage ensued, but without any really serious
result. We had been quieted by lies, because so long as we were all
together the authorities had not dared to try conclusions with us by
force.

The detachment to which I belonged, which was to travel north-eastwards,
consisted of five-and-twenty persons: four condemned to penal
servitude—Tchuikòv, Spandoni, Maria Kalyùshnaya, and myself; four
judicially exiled—Vasìliev, Dashkièvitch, and two ladies (Tchemodànova
and Shtchulèpnikòva); the rest all banished by administrative order—some
to the north of Tobolsk Government, some to Eastern Siberia—among these
latter being Malyòvany, Rubìnok, and our chief of commissariat, Làzarev,
who still fulfilled his old functions, our “housekeeping” arrangements
continuing as before.

From Tiumen we had to go by boat to Tomsk, our route being as follows:
down the Tura, on whose banks Tiumen is situated, to its junction with
the Tobol; by the latter as far as the Irtisch, by which to the Obi; and
then up stream to the Tomi, on which Tomsk stands. This made a voyage of
about 3,000 versts (about 2,000 miles), lasting at least fifteen days.
As on the Volga, we were installed in the two cabins of a prisoners’
barge, and a steamboat took our floating gaol in tow. This journey
afforded little of interest. Although we were in mid-June there were as
yet no signs of spring. Sometimes we passed masses of drifting ice; the
nights were extremely cold, and the sunshine gave no great heat by day.
The rivers were in flood, and everything looked dead and deserted; for
miles round we could often discover no trace of human existence. The
deathly stillness, the absence of any sign of growth at this awakening
season of the year, the piercing cold, ever increasing as we got further
north—all this had an uncanny and depressing effect. “Men and women live
in these primeval forests and swamps (_tundra_),” I thought, with a
shiver, and I pictured to myself how, after many years of prison had
robbed me of strength and vitality, I should be given the “right” of
residing in a similar, or perhaps a drearier locality; even then not
enjoying the liberty possessed by the unfortunate natives—Samoyedes and
Ostiaks—who wander about these eternal woods and steppes.

Our boat occasionally came to anchor, either to get wood for fuel, or at
the two or three halting-stations provided. The Ostiaks would then come
on board, paddling up in their wretched boats (_yaliks_) made of bark,
and would offer fish for barter. They hardly seemed to understand the
use of money, for when asked the price of a fish, they would only answer
with the one word “roup,” meaning “rouble,” and would then gratefully
accept a copper coin though a piece of bread or a little tobacco would
elicit much more joy. These people had a most pitiable appearance, and
were treated with the utmost contempt by our boatmen and the soldiers,
who usually addressed them all as “Vanka” (Johnny), which they accepted
quite calmly. Sometimes we saw their huts in the distance, cone-shaped
structures, the framework made of branches, the walls of birch-bark or
reindeer skins.

Except the capital town of Tobolsk, situated at the junction of the
Tobol with the great Irtisch, throughout the length of some thousand
versts we only passed two inhabited places dignified with the name of
towns—Surgut and Narim. Here, and at Berèsov, on the northern coast of
the continent, some of our “administratives” were to take up their
abode. We parted from them at Tobolsk. The conditions of life in some of
these places of exile may be guessed at from our glimpses of them. A
“town” of this sort consists of some dozen wooden huts, the inhabitants
of which are usually a mixed race, Russian and native. These people make
out a livelihood with difficulty, subsisting almost exclusively on fish.
An educated man must find existence in such a place unspeakably
miserable; yet the Russian Government sends even minors here. I know a
young girl who at the age of seventeen was exiled to Berèsov, and had to
languish there for twelve years. Fortunately, none of the women in our
company were destined for these waste places of the earth.

When we began to go up the Obi there was scarcely any change of scene,
but ever the same hopeless wastes. Our little company had much
diminished; our choir was disbanded; and life on the barge was quiet and
monotonous as we slowly glided on to Tomsk.

This town, which counts as one of the liveliest in Siberia, only
harboured at this time a very small number of political exiles. When we
arrived, two of them came at once on to our barge, burning with
curiosity to see who we were, and to have news from home; and they
unexpectedly found acquaintances among our party. One young lady I had
known six years before; she stared at me now, and would scarcely believe
that the shorn convict was the same man she had known under such
different circumstances. “You are so changed, so changed!” she kept
saying thoughtfully.

The local prison authorities took us into their custody on the barge,
when our identity had been established by a careful comparison of our
appearance with the photographs in our record-books. We were then
marched through the town to the prison. On the way two young girls,
scarcely over school-age, suddenly broke through our escort of soldiers,
and rushed upon us. The surprised soldiers tried to catch hold of the
intruders and send them off, but that was not so easy. The girls ran
like squirrels through our midst, announced themselves as the two
sisters P., gave each of us a hasty kiss, and paid no attention to the
calls of the officers and soldiers. Not till they had attained their end
did they quit our ranks, and then they walked beside the procession,
keeping us company to the prison gates.

We stayed a week in Tomsk, and during that time made acquaintance with
all the exiles there, as they were allowed to visit us in the prison.
This prison in which we were lodged was composed of a few wooden
buildings and some barracks. Every room was filled to overflowing, for
there were about a thousand prisoners of all classes, but mostly
criminals—young and old together. Like ourselves (for we were left
fairly free here), they spent the whole day in the spacious yard. Until
now we “politicals” had been entirely separate from the ordinary
criminals, but henceforward the convoy was composed of both classes, and
I now learned to know the criminal world from personal observation.

One day as I strolled about the yard one of these men spoke to me. He
was a powerful-looking fellow of about thirty, red-haired, and with
well-marked features. He was evidently a dandy among the convicts.
Beneath the long grey coat, which he wore thrown loosely over his
shoulders, could be seen a white linen shirt adorned at the throat with
a gay tie; round his waist was wound a brightly coloured scarf, and to
this his chains were cunningly attached, so that they made no noise
whatever in walking. The leather protections beneath the ankle-rings
were artistically fastened to look like the tops of his boots. A round
cap pushed carelessly back on the side of his head was the crowning
touch to his elegance, which the moustache, curling upward, finally
completed. Everything denoted an aristocrat of criminal society.

“How many years have you got?” he asked after a polite greeting. And on
my reply he continued, “And you mean to stay it out?”

“I can hardly do otherwise,” I said.

“That depends. If you like, we can arrange a ‘swop.’”[59]

Footnote 59:

  A “swop” is carried out in the following way. A convict under heavy
  sentence—of so many years’ penal servitude, _e.g._—takes an
  opportunity of exchanging personalities, so to speak, with one of the
  ordinary criminals who is simply being deported. A member of this
  class will undertake the business for a ridiculously small
  compensation. Then at the first station whence the exiles are to be
  despatched to their separate destination the supposed exile escapes,
  to wander about in Siberia, and, if lucky, find his way back to
  European Russia. The other who has taken his place reveals after a
  time his true character, and confesses that he exchanged with
  So-and-so at such and such a place. The matter is investigated, and
  the culprit receives a hundred lashes and a year’s hard labour. It is
  generally the very lowest class of criminals who offer themselves as
  merchandise in these cases—wretched outcasts, who only receive a
  trifle—a few roubles, perhaps—as their share of the reward. The
  organisers of the traffic, the leaders of their _artèl_ (union), see
  to it that when once a prisoner undertakes a “swop” he sticks to his
  part. If he dare attempt to betray them he is simply murdered.

I understood what he meant. In 1879 some political exiles—Vladimir
Debagòrio-Makrièvitch, Paul Orlov, and V. Isbitsky—exchanged identities
with three ordinary criminals, and got away. When this had become known,
however, the authorities had at once taken stringent precautions against
a repetition of the affair. The papers of political prisoners were most
carefully made out and photographs attached; they were sent by special
convoy if moved from one place to another; and besides this, each one
was confided to the personal charge of one of the soldiers. But when I
set all this before the man he was not in the least abashed.

“Nonsense! We can do it in spite of all their paraphernalia!”

I knew already from books and from the tales of comrades that a peculiar
organisation exists among the convicted criminals in Siberia, the
principle of which is in a manner oligarchic. A small band of the more
strong-willed and energetic gaol-birds governs the rest. They are called
the “Ivans”; they decide all matters relating to their “party,” both in
prison and _en route_, and institute their own rules quite independently
of the recognised authorities. The rank and file yield them slavish
obedience, however unjust and terrible their orders may be. I saw at
once that I had one of these tyrants before me.

“I don’t see how it could be done,” said I; and indeed, the difficulties
appeared to me quite insurmountable.

“Do you see that brook?” said the “Ivan.” “Well, in the course of every
year one or two corpses are found in that brook. We arrange a ‘swop’;
one of us changes with you, and the chief person concerned disappears
down there. Do you understand?”

I could not quite see what he meant, and was horror-struck when he
explained his plan, which was as follows:—I was to make the exchange
before the warders got to know us “politicals” individually, and the man
with whom I exchanged must be as like me as possible. Of course, when
the “politicals” were to be sent on, their identity would first be
inquired into; but then it would only appear that Deutsch was missing.
To accomplish this the “Ivan” would simply murder his companion who had
taken my place, and throw his corpse into the stream. I should not be
found; or if my unfortunate substitute’s body eventually came to light,
it would be taken for granted that it was mine, and that I had committed
suicide or been murdered. I myself, in the meantime, should be sent to
the dead man’s destination as an ordinary criminal, and could afterwards
escape thence—not a difficult matter for that class of prisoner. For
perpetrating this villainy the man only asked a mere trifle—twenty or
thirty roubles—which blood-money he would have had to share with quite a
number of accomplices. He assured me that such enterprises were by no
means uncommon, and always succeeded.

I listened to him with the fascination of horror and astonishment. He
treated the subject with perfect calm and indifference, as if discussing
the simplest piece of business in the world, and seemed to find my
rejection of his proposal most incomprehensible. Afterwards, when I had
come to know the country better, I realised that this was a typical
example of the manners and customs of the ordinary criminals, and
nothing out of the common. As I have said, henceforward we were to have
these gentry for travelling companions, and it may be imagined what that
meant.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Another batch of our comrades took leave of us at Tomsk, and we were now
only fourteen in number, including Maria Kalyùshnaya, Barbara
Shtchulèpnikòva, and Liubov Tchemodànova. We learned that the
authorities proposed to separate these ladies from us here, and send
them on for the remainder of their journey with a party of married
convicts of the ordinary class. As, however, we heard from those who
knew that in such a party, surrounded by the unruly band of criminals,
they would have endless disagreeables and hardships to put up with, we
sent a petition to Petersburg, with the consent of the governor, and
obtained permission for our women comrades to remain in our detachment.



                             CHAPTER XVIII
 BY WAY OF THE CONVOY-STATIONS—A CLUMSY OFFICER—THE VAGABOND—A MAN-HUNT


The real hardships of the journey now began for the “politicals.” From
Moscow to Tomsk, over three thousand miles, the conditions of travelling
had been more or less European; but henceforward we were to go entirely
by road, crawling from one halting-station to another by short stages.
In the terrible Siberian cold, in the glowing heat of summer, in all
weathers, without regard to the fitness or unfitness of the road,
parties of a hundred prisoners are despatched from Tomsk regularly on
fixed days of the week, parties which consist alternately of men only,
and of families—men, women, and children. The day’s march is a stage of
from sixteen to twenty miles, and every third day is a rest. At this
tortoise-like pace—on an average about thirteen miles a day—the long
wandering lasts for many weeks and months, under the most wretched
conditions of life.

In the damp rooms of the convoy-stations, the air of which is loaded
with every evil odour imaginable, the convicts lie squeezed together on
the bare boards of the two sloping wooden shelves, one above the other,
which do duty for bed-places. These invariably swarm with myriads of
parasites; sleep is probably impossible for half the night, and early in
the morning the prisoners are driven forth to begin afresh the weary
march. Long before sunrise the criminal contingent will be standing
drawn up in the yard, to wait there in the cold until the roll is
called, and at last the signal to start is given. At the head of the
procession march the older criminals, seasoned rascals most of them, the
“Ivans.” The majority of them have trodden this path more than once
already, and know every brook and copse on the way. They go at a quick
pace, in serried ranks, and easily do their four miles an hour, or even
more. Behind them the other criminals straggle painfully along in
irregular groups separated by long stretches of road. Then come carts
with the sick and exhausted and the baggage; and lastly, the
“politicals” in the rear, two or three together in each one-horse cart,
under the charge of their special escort.

[Illustration:

  IN A SIBERIAN PRISON
    To face page 158
]

This strange procession extends itself along the road for about
three-quarters of a mile, and raises clouds of dust, from which we in
the rearguard have most to suffer. To add to our woes there is the
special scourge of those regions, the Siberian midge. Swarms of those
terrible little creatures kept us company, not only attacking our hands
and faces, and getting into mouth, nose, ears, and eyes, but inserting
themselves beneath our clothing, and inflicting tortures of irritation.
The only—and even these inefficient—means of protection are nets of
horsehair, with which we had taken care to provide ourselves.

After the first ten miles or so there is a halt in some woodland
clearing, or by a spring or stream. The criminals here break their fast,
usually only on dry bread, and perhaps some of them have not even that.
Their feeding is managed in this way: each man receives daily five to
twelve kopecks,[60] according to the locality through which they are
passing (where prices depend on the result of the last harvest), and
also according to the “rank” of the prisoner, for even here there are
class distinctions and privileges. This allowance is only under the most
favourable circumstances sufficient to satisfy hunger; it covers, at a
pinch, the cost of bread, tea, and a few vegetables. But gambling is so
deeply rooted a passion among the criminal prisoners that they will
stake their last coin, and he who loses everything has to go hungry. His
only resource then is to beg; and whenever we passed through a village
some of the most destitute always went begging, under the soldiers’
supervision. They would station themselves before a hut and start a
pitiful song, when the Siberian women would throw out pieces of bread to
them. Travellers, too, whom we met would give them alms, and these gifts
were shared among the whole party, for the criminals too had their
_artèl_, or union.

Footnote 60:

  A kopeck is equal to a farthing.—_Trans._

After the short rest the party would set out again in the same marching
order, and try to reach the halting-station before the noonday heat
began. As soon as they arrived at the station the advance party would
crowd round the door, ready to rush in directly it was opened; and then
would begin the battle for the best sleeping-places, the weaker being
thrust aside or trampled down by the stronger. At our first sight of
this mad fighting and struggling among some hundred men in a narrow
space we thought they would kill each other, but generally the wild
tumult of blows, kicks, and curses did not result in anything serious.
Of course the “Ivans” came off triumphant, having secured the best
places for themselves, while the old and weak had to be content with the
worst corners. The crowding, dirt, stench, and noise made these prisons
veritable hells on earth.

The halting-stations were usually tumbledown, one-storied buildings
made of rough-hewn tree-trunks, and were divided inside by passages
into two, three, or four rooms. Near this prison building would be a
house for the officer in command and another for the soldiers, the
whole enclosed by a stockade of posts about fifteen feet high, closely
fitted together, and pointed at their upper ends. There are two
classes of halting-stations:—larger ones, where the days of rest are
spent, and where an officer is always in residence, and smaller ones,
which are only used as lodging for one night.

[Illustration:

  ROLL-CALL OF PRISONERS AT A HALTING-STATION
    To face page 160
]

When the question of places had been settled the prisoners would all
come out into the yard. Here there were generally market-women with
their wares outspread, and a regular bargaining would ensue. Of course,
the convicts were always ready to cheat the women and steal from them,
and the latter would then raise loud cries of lamentation; as, however,
in such cases the convicts all stuck together like one man, no inquiry
could ever elicit any evidence in favour of the complainants.

Washing and cooking also went on in the yard, a big fire being kindled
in the middle of it; and no one ever thought of danger to the wooden
buildings and stockade.

The “politicals” were given a separate room; and our first task on
arrival was always to screen off a part with sheets and rugs to make a
place for our ladies. The position of these poor women, obliged to camp
out in such close proximity to us men, was in many ways very
uncomfortable, especially as soldiers were often quartered with us; but
we did our best to spare them any unpleasantness that could be avoided.

For some of our party the greatest hardship of our long journey was the
early rising; they needed sleep beyond everything, and from force of
habit could not get it early in the night. As the ordinary criminals
liked early hours—and the earlier the better—there were often disputes
between us on the subject. We usually arranged the evening before with
the officer of the convoy, and also with the headman of the ordinary
convicts, and appointed six a.m. as the hour for starting; but once we
had a regular battle on this point. We “politicals” seldom made use of
the courtyard until the criminals were shut up for the night; there was
no room for us till then, and it was therefore only toward nightfall
that we could get out into the open air. One evening, however, some of
us were in the yard, when the officer came up and ordered us to go
inside. We were exceedingly surprised at this piece of gratuitous
interference, and asked what it meant.

“Make haste, and be off, or I shall order the start to be made at four
o’clock to-morrow morning,” said the officer.

“But you have just agreed that we shall start at six,” said we.

“Well, and now I say that we shall start at four.”

“We shall stick to the original arrangement, and won’t stir before six,”
we returned.

“We shall see about that!” was the rejoinder; and off he went.

Evidently we should have a tussle, but we were unanimous in our resolve
not to give in to any such arbitrary proceeding.

Next morning the watch awakened us while it was still dark, and said the
officer had given orders that we must be moving. We paid no attention to
this. The ordinary convicts had been already called out, and were in the
yard ready for the start, when at four o’clock the sergeant came and
repeated the order. Some of us then dressed, but the others remained
lying on the plank beds. Meanwhile the convicts began to grumble at
being kept freezing in the cold; they cursed and threatened, and made a
great to-do outside our windows. The officer himself now appeared,
accompanied by one of the soldiers, and again repeated his order to
start. We did not stir, and he called to his people—

“Drive them out with the butt-ends of your rifles!”

This would now most certainly have become a serious affair if the
soldiers had obeyed at once, for we were prepared to defend ourselves.
Fortunately they hesitated a moment, and that saved us.

“What are you doing?” cried some of us. “Do you want to have bloodshed?
That would not be pleasant for you. You have broken your promise, and in
no case are we obliged to begin the march so early; the instructions
only say that a party must reach its destination before sunset.”

At this moment the sergeant came up in haste.

“Captain,” said he, “the convicts are in rebellion; they want to break
in here.”

“Let us get at them!” we heard them shouting outside; “we’ll soon make
them show their legs!”

“There you are!” we cried to the officer. “You have brought this on
yourself. It is your fault for having inflamed those men against us.”

The man lost his presence of mind in face of this danger; and, scared
out of his wits, instead of giving orders, appealed to us for counsel.

“In God’s name, what’s to be done?”

We advised him to let the fellows start off at once, under command of
the sergeant, so as to get them out of the way.

“At six o’clock we will be ready, and will go after them; but we won’t
start a minute sooner.”

He went off somewhat humbled, and gave the order as we had suggested. We
drank our tea very peacefully, and got ready at our leisure. From time
to time the orderly appeared, and asked if we would start; but we always
looked at the time and said it was only so many minutes to six.
Punctually on the stroke of the hour we got up and set off after the
rest of the convoy.

This occurrence had the effect of winning us the respect and sympathy of
most of the convicts. Our firmness and decision pleased them and
impressed them. They were surprised that such a handful of us—fourteen
men and women—should have successfully resisted the domineering of an
officer, who had at his command a hundred soldiers and their own
contingent into the bargain.

Friendly relations were established between our two divisions, and
throughout our journey we never came into collision. One only of the
convicts had a grudge against us, and took every opportunity of evincing
his dislike. He was an old hand, had repeatedly escaped from prison, and
was now being transported as a criminal of “unknown antecedents.” He was
evidently from the working-classes, but was distinguished by keen
reasoning powers, and had read an astonishing amount. Reading seemed to
be his master passion, but the works of reactionary authors exclusively
had fallen into his hands—Katkov, Meshtchèrsky, etc.—and his views were
according. He had formed really remarkable opinions on politics in
general, and Socialism in particular. He was genuinely convinced that
the revolutionists had killed Alexander II. solely because he had
emancipated the serfs! He accused us before all the other convicts of
being either discontented aristocrats or their paid agents. After this,
several of us entered into discussion with him, and tried to convert
him. By degrees our arguments began to take effect; he begged us to lend
him books, and sought our society whenever possible. I had many talks
with him, and tried to get him to tell me about his past and his
wandering life; but I never succeeded in learning who and what he really
was. He remained to the end the “Ivan of unknown antecedents,” as he was
called in his record-book. Yet he would readily tell us tales of his
vagabondage. I asked him on one occasion how he managed to get through
to European Russia when he escaped from Siberia.

“Oh, where’s the difficulty?” he replied. “The chief thing is to have
the Urals behind your back; then you get a train or a steamboat, and
stop wherever you like. I would go in that way to Kharkov, or Kiëv, or
Odessa, or Rostov, hire a room, and live quite comfortably. I was always
respectably dressed; my passport was all right (that we see to
ourselves), and so nobody bothered about me. The one thing I cared about
was to subscribe to a library and get books. I’ve read all sorts of good
things—Gaboriau, Paul de Kock, Ponson du Terrail, and lots more beside.
At midday I would dine at a restaurant, and go to the theatre in the
evening sometimes.”

“That sounds very nice. But where did you get the money for all that?” I
inquired, with interest.

Of earning a living in the ordinary sense there was evidently no
question here. One would suppose the gentleman to have been living on
private means.

[Illustration:

  ESCAPED CONVICT-TRAMP (BRODYAGA)
    To face page 164
]

“Money? Oh, I took whatever there was to take!”

“Well, tell me just what that means,” I asked him. And he thereupon
explained his theory of life.

“Above everything, it’s my motto that ‘Self’s the man.’ I don’t hold
with joint-stock business in our way of life. Thieves make bad partners,
you know. You run the chance of being murdered or split on at every
turn; so I always work on my own hook.”

He then related how he “worked” at burglary, pocket-picking, or petty
thefts, each as occasion served.

“Of course,” he observed, “sometimes you have a bit of bad luck and get
caught. Then off you go to Siberia, and have to begin all over again. I
expect I shall go on all my life ringing the changes on Europe and
Asia,” he concluded, with perfect composure.

I realised from the narrations of this man and other criminals the
astonishing numbers belonging to this vagabond class. It is generally
recruited from the ranks of those condemned to transportation for the
less serious offences; but some among its members have been sentenced to
penal servitude, and have then “swopped.” As soon as the sun of spring
shines out, not one of them remains at his place of exile; they all
manage to get away and make for European Russia. They usually choose
byways and tracks known only to themselves through the _taigà_ or
primeval forest, but occasionally they wander quite calmly along the
great Moscow high road—until the completion of the railway the only
regular way of transit between Eastern Siberia and Europe. We ourselves
often met these tramps on the road, travelling in couples or in quite
considerable bands. They came along in their prison clothes, a bundle
and a small kettle on their backs; always skirting the edge of the
forest, so as to vanish within its recesses if need be. At sight of our
party they would stop for a chat with the convicts, among whom they
often found old acquaintances. The officers and soldiers seemed not to
trouble their heads about them in the slightest degree.

“Where are you off to?” the officer of our convoy once asked, when some
tramps saluted him, cap in hand.

“Your Excellency knows; we’re going to the Government’s lodgings,” the
rogues replied, grinning.

“Oh, get along with you, then, in God’s name!” the officer laughed; and
then told us that he had escorted this very lot into exile a few months
back.

“Government lodgings” was the recognised euphemism for prison, and it
was perfectly true that most of these vagabonds would find their way
back there soon enough; by autumn hardly a man of them would be still at
large. Meanwhile they begged their way along. The Siberian natives were
liberal in almsgiving; partly from obedience to their religion, which
enjoins charitable deeds, but not a little from fear, as, if refused,
these tramps are not slow in revenging themselves. In many places there
was a regular custom of putting out food on the window-sill at night—a
bowl of thickened milk, a piece of bread, or some curd-cheese. The
peasants would even leave open the door of the bath-house (generally
placed at a little distance from the other houses), that the wanderers
might find shelter. They were admitted very unwillingly to the
dwelling-houses, from a not unjustifiable mistrust of their conduct; and
that reminds me of the following episode.

One day as we were on the march a criminal told me that he had known
Tchernishevsky.[61] This naturally excited my interest, and I asked him
how and where he had met that great martyr to our cause. He told me that
he had once before been exiled, and sent to Viluisk, in Yakutsk.
Tchernishevsky was there at the same time; they were let out of prison
together, and interned in the same town. The man could tell me nothing
except some details of the way in which Tchernishevsky had passed his
time in exile; but that was enough to make my heart warm towards him. It
seemed to me that a criminal who had known personally one of the noblest
men in Russia must have something in him a little different from the
rest. When he had told me all he could of Tchernishevsky, I asked him
how he himself came to be going back into exile.

Footnote 61:

  This celebrated scholar and political writer, though not an active
  member of the revolutionary party, was arrested in 1866 and condemned
  to penal servitude. During his imprisonment in the Fortress of Peter
  and Paul he wrote his famous novel, _What Should We Do?_ which had
  such a great influence on the youth of his time.—_Trans._

“I got sick of that cursed hole, Viluisk,” he said, “and got away with
some other tramps. We’d been a few days on the road when one stormy
night we came to a village. It was pouring in torrents, and we could
find nobody who would let us in, till at last an old man opened the door
of his hut. We begged him in God’s name to give us shelter.

“‘Well,’ he said, ‘will you promise to leave us old folks in peace?’

“‘What do you take us for, grandfather?’ said we. ‘Have pity on us!’

“So he let us in, and the old woman gave us something to eat, and they
allowed us to lie on the stove by turns. Well, they went to sleep, and
we just _did for them_, and went off with everything that could be of
any use to us. We didn’t get far: the peasants came after us and caught
us; and then there was the usual game—trial and sentence to penal
servitude. But on the way here I made a ‘swop,’ and now I’m going into
exile as ‘of unknown antecedents.’”

                  *       *       *       *       *

On their side, however, the people of Siberia are often guilty of great
brutality towards the convict-tramps, sometimes shooting them down like
beasts of the chase simply in order to steal their clothes, boots, and
the products of their begging. I have been told, for instance, by people
whose evidence is to be trusted, that the following is a typical
instance.

A tramp had hired himself out to a peasant for the winter. When spring
laid the road open, he received the whole sum due to him, and took his
departure. His wages amounted to the veriest trifle, for the peasants
drive hard bargains with the poor rascals; but his master grudged
parting with even this miserable pittance, and after his departure took
his gun and went on the chase. Siberians are keen huntsmen and dead
shots; they are as much at home in the forest as the wild animals. This
man soon got on the convict’s trail, caught him up, shot him down
ruthlessly, and left the body to the beasts of prey, while he went home
with the spoils.

Throughout our journey we constantly heard tales of unrecognised corpses
found, and shocking crimes never unravelled. Siberia was then a wild,
forsaken land, untraversed by roads save for the one great Moscow
highway. The government of the country districts, entirely in the hands
of the police, was corrupt from top to bottom. What wonder if events
that chill one’s blood with horror take place there without exciting
more than a passing comment? The life of a human being is not valued
highly in itself anywhere throughout the Tsar’s dominions; but in
Siberia it counts for absolutely nothing, as my own eyes often
testified. Even now, when distinct progress has been made in many
respects, and the administration of justice greatly reformed (since
1897), this state of things is little changed.



                              CHAPTER XIX
    THE FOREST—UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS AT ESCAPE—THE PEOPLE WE MET—THE
                   CRIMINAL WORLD—THE CONVOY OFFICERS


Our journey was for the most part accomplished during the Siberian
summer. The forest, through which the highway runs for thousands of
versts, is then in fullest beauty; and from the many different species
of trees is wafted an indescribably delicious perfume. Countless birds
flit among the branches, and fill the air with song. Life seems
everywhere the more ebullient for its long winter sleep, and throughout
all nature the tide of energy is at its highest. A riot of joy was
visible everywhere, and we alone seemed to strike a discordant note, as
we wandered on towards the prison that awaited us. Yet even we felt born
anew; our open-air life worked wonders, following on our long
imprisonment. Many who had left Moscow weak and ill became robust in
health during the journey.

The Moscow high-road is, as I have said, the only means of transit,
nevertheless it is kept in an incredibly bad condition. It has never
been properly made, and during the damp weather of early spring, or
after a downpour in summer, vehicles are often axle-deep in mud. Along
the road, at intervals of fifteen to twenty versts, there are villages,
or sometimes small towns. To the north and south no traces of human
dwellings are to be found; the eternal forest extends for thousands of
versts, and only a few nomad tribes of half-savage hunters or herdsmen
roam through its depths. Whilst our party rested, or even during the
march, we “politicals” would often leave the road, and accompanied by a
guard would dive into the woods to gather flowers and berries. A strange
feeling would steal over one. A dozen steps into the thicket, and one is
absolutely alone, not a soul to be seen. One dreams of being free and
one’s own master; but the rattle of fetters, or the glitter of a bayonet
brings back grim reality, and soon we are recalled by the soldiers, for
the party must not be kept waiting.

The officers make no difficulty about these little excursions,
although they are forbidden by the regulations. At first this
surprised me; but I soon saw it was simply because everyone was
convinced that escape was quite impracticable. For although at first
sight it may appear an easy thing to hide in the undergrowth and get
away, as a matter of fact very few “politicals” have ever even
attempted it, and only one—Dzvonkyèvitch—when actually on the march.
He had been condemned to penal servitude for life, and ran away from
his escort into the forest; but the soldiers caught and frightfully
maltreated him. If the officers had not come up he would have been
murdered out of hand. He was taken half dead to the hospital in
Krasnoyarsk, where—thanks to his strong constitution—he recovered from
his severe wounds, though he will bear traces of them for the rest of
his life. This had taken place just a year before our arrival at
Krasnoyarsk.

Several attempts have also been made to escape from the
halting-stations, but with no greater success. It must be remembered
that Siberia is so sparsely populated that every traveller on the road
is an object of universal attention, and the authorities are therefore
soon made aware of the whereabouts of a runaway, if he be a “political”
whom they are anxious to capture. Besides, the fugitives are often
forced to come in of themselves. They do not know the paths through the
forest, so familiar to the ordinary criminals, but wander helplessly
about, and are thankful at last if they chance to hit the high-road once
more, and—half famished—seek the nearest village. In such cases the
peasants are eager to assist the authorities and thereby earn a reward;
and as soon as they discover a political runaway they unfailingly
deliver him up to the police.

[Illustration:

  AN ATTEMPT AT ESCAPE
    To face page 170
]

Up to the present time the Russian Government has been amply justified
in regarding Siberia as one vast prison, whose natural conditions offer
more insuperable obstacles to escape than do iron bars, high walls, or
any number of guards. But this is only to the “politicals,” to whom the
forest ways are strange. The criminals, as I have said, are quite at
home in the wild woods; and it is easily conceivable that to many of us
the thought has occurred of making common cause with these people, and
escaping in their company. Such attempts, however, have more than once
had a fatal ending. The rascals are always ready to murder for the sake
of gain; a “political’s” money, and even his clothes, are quite
sufficient bait. In this manner it is supposed that Ladislas Isbitsky
came by his death in the year 1880. He had successfully negotiated a
“swop,” had escaped as an ordinary criminal—and then disappeared for
ever, probably murdered by the tramps to whose guidance he had entrusted
himself.

Another instance of this kind was related to me by a political exile,
who, when himself a fugitive in company with some convict-tramps,
chanced to overhear them planning to murder him in his sleep. For weeks
he was obliged to feign sleep at night while really remaining awake—a
terrible task, as may readily be imagined.

These criminals do not, indeed, even trust one another when on the road;
and it is said that when two of them have to enter a narrow path, there
will be a sharp dispute as to who is to go first, the one in front never
feeling safe from an attack in the rear by the companion of his march.

Other dangers also lie in wait for the wanderer. Our comrade
Vlastòpoulo, sentenced to penal servitude for life, narrowly escaped
being devoured by a bear, during his flight in company with Kòziriov
(another revolutionist condemned to penal servitude). He described to me
how the bear came so suddenly upon them that they had no time to fly,
and could only back against a tree, supposing their last hour had come.
Bruin, however, must have had a full meal, for he trotted quietly by,
apparently without noticing them! These two fugitives suffered terribly
from hunger and thirst during their wanderings through the woods.

Although we had had no personal experience of these various dangers,
most of us were so well aware of them that no plan of escape during the
journey entered into our calculations; but two of our comrades could not
resist the temptation to weave schemes of the kind. These were Maria
Kalyùshnaya and the student Yordan—the former condemned to twenty years’
penal servitude, and the latter “administratively” exiled to Eastern
Siberia for five years. They were both young, barely twenty, and their
longing for freedom was overpowering. None of their projects of flight
were practicable, however, and they did not attempt to carry them into
execution. Both these young creatures died in prison; Maria
Kalyùshnaya’s story, which I shall have to relate further on, being a
specially sad one.

We had many opportunities, during our long march, of becoming acquainted
with the people whose dwellings are beside the great highway. A certain
air of comfort and well-being was often visible about them, and some of
the larger settlements had the pleasant appearance of a Russian
provincial town. Roomy, well-built houses, occasionally of more than one
story, decorated with carving and provided with tidy hedges and gates,
lined the road sometimes for several versts. Curtains and flower-pots
showed in the windows; the rooms were often carpeted and furnished
comfortably, sometimes even exhibiting the luxury of Austrian bentwood
furniture. The cattle, so far as we could see, were finer and better
kept than is usual among the Russian peasantry.

This well-to-do appearance was only in part to be ascribed to the
productiveness of the husbandry in these regions. Trade and the conduct
of traffic were the principal resources of the inhabitants; for this
road was the only means of communication by land between Europe and the
northern parts of Asia. Caravans in lengthy processions, sometimes in
such numbers that the road was practically blocked, travelled along the
great highway; and the country people found employment in the transport
of both goods and passengers. The regular posting-stations were often
unequal to the demands made upon them, and travellers—merchants
especially—were obliged to hire private vehicles and pay dearly for
them. Besides these legitimate industries, the inhabitants had another
extremely lucrative source of gain. Many villages had won for themselves
an evil name in this connection, and were known as “thieves’ towns,”
because no caravan ever passed through them without paying toll of its
wares; sometimes a chest of tea would be stolen, sometimes a horse, and
so on. It was asserted that in some of these places the inhabitants made
raids on travellers by night, and lived by highway robbery. It is
characteristic of the country that this reputation lowered no man in
public estimation. Anyone was received in “good society” if he were
rich, no matter whether he were well known to have robberies by the
score upon his conscience; he might, indeed, even be asked to fill the
most honourable offices—such as churchwarden, mayor, or head of the
commune. Later, when I was living in a Siberian town as an exile
released from prison under police surveillance, I was frequently told by
trustworthy persons, with every detail, how such and such a citizen,
universally respected and esteemed, had made his fortune by cheating and
robbery, or even by downright murder. There were numbers of people whose
past could not bear inspection; and many of them, even after becoming
possessed of wealth in superfluity, could not quite give up their old
practices. It so fell out, for example, at the end of the eighties, that
General Barabash the military governor of Tchita (the capital of the
Transbaikalian Government), gave a banquet, to which all the
notabilities of the place were invited, and that the highly respectable
merchant and mayor Alexèiev broke off in the middle of the feasting and
went straight from table to waylay the passing night-mail. This worthy
citizen, with one of his friends, galloped after the mail-coach,
murdered the driver, seriously wounded the guard, seized the bag
containing the registered letters, and made off. The guard, however,
whom they had left for dead, was rescued; and as an unusually energetic
magistrate took the matter in hand, the whole story came out, and could
not be hushed up in the customary manner. The case was brought before a
court-martial, and the highway robbers were condemned to death.

These colonies by the great road had had very diverse origins, and were
sharply differentiated from each other in character. There were more or
less pure Russian villages, neighboured by barbaric Buriat settlements;
and there were also villages inhabited exclusively by members of various
sects, exiled from Russia and forcibly established there as a punishment
for their daring to fall away from the Orthodox State religion. Those
that I found specially interesting were the villages of the so-called
Subòtniki (Sabbatarians). The members of this sect are Russian by
nationality, yet their religion is the Mosaic in its strictest form.

It was curious in the extreme to find these typical representatives of
the Slav race considering themselves Jews by virtue of their religion,
and still stranger to hear them boasting of the prerogatives of their
Israelitish faith. In their manner of life and occupations they differ
in no way from ordinary Russian peasants; although in decency and
prosperity their villages are far above those of their Christian
neighbours.

Those of our criminal contingent who had travelled this way more than
once already were well acquainted with the manners and customs of the
Siberian people; many of them were veritable mines of information, and
could relate tales of uncommon interest. In their narrations the
Siberians usually figured in an unfavourable light; for the criminals
hate them from the bottom of their hearts, and ascribe all kinds of evil
qualities to them, being, one and all, firmly persuaded that although
their own standard of conduct is by no means exalted, they are
infinitely higher in the moral scale than the Siberians.

“Heaven knows we are rascals through and through, good-for-nothings, and
all that; but _that_ lot are far and away worse,” was their dictum. They
showered on the Siberians all sorts of contemptuous names, which were
quite incomprehensible to us, but seemed to provoke their recipients
terribly. This mutual antipathy probably arose from the fact of the
parties knowing one another only too well, and from the injuries
inflicted by each on the other during past generations.

We came into such close contact with the world of crime during our
travels that we could soon recognise what Lombroso calls “the criminal
type.” On the whole, the criminals made a more favourable impression on
me than I had expected. Certainly there was much about them unpleasant,
and even repulsive; but this was, I think, less due to their character
as a class than to the special influence of the “Ivans”—a quite peculiar
type, who imparted their tone more or less to all the others. With the
exception of these leaders, and of a small number of the worst
criminals, who had not succeeded in “swopping,” the majority consisted
of very average men of the working class, with the good and bad
qualities of their order. Their leading characteristics were dumb
acquiescence in their lot and a shy dread of anyone who would attempt to
better it.

They were for the most part just as good-natured and ready to help one
another as is commonly the case with workers of the lower classes. Among
the ordinary prisoners, too, were to be found many individuals who could
in no sense be ranked as criminals. Russian village communes have the
power of rejecting from their midst members whom they consider
undesirable; and these outcasts can then be sent to settle in Siberia,
without any judicial sentence, but simply by the desire of a majority in
their commune. Moreover, this verdict of the commune is often delivered
without any real majority being convinced as to the unfitness of the
offending member; the clerk to the commune and two or three of the
richer peasants and usurers (_Kulaki_) can easily manage to get rid of a
poor wretch who does not happen to please them. It would be impossible
to calculate how many crying injustices are thus perpetrated on the
destitute and helpless among the peasantry. The victims of such
barbarous and arbitrary proceedings who were among our party, had many
sad stories to tell, which only corroborated what I myself had seen
going on in country districts. With one or two exceptions, the exiles
belonging to this category were quite average specimens of the Russian
peasant.

There were also included among these ordinary prisoners members of
various religious sects, exiled on that account, and they were very far
removed from the criminal type. These sectarians are admitted, by all
who know Siberia best, to form the steadiest and the most industrious
element of the population. The sectarians in our party of ordinary
prisoners always avoided any participation in the fights, quarrels, and
rowdyism of the others, and tried not to fall out either with the
leaders of the convict band, on the one hand, nor with the authorities
on the other. It was their custom to accept humbly all insults and
injuries inflicted on them as trials sent them by God.

Those prisoners who had minor punishments to undergo, and who had least
on their conscience, were for the most part timid, submissive, even
broken-spirited. Among them were the unfortunate wretches whom I have
described as gambling away their food-money for whole weeks together.
They then literally starved, or sold themselves into the hands of the
“swop” organisation for a beggarly sum. They were treated with utter
contempt by the other criminals, and among them went by the name of
“biscuits,” a rather descriptive title for these pale, dried-up,
emaciated creatures. These “biscuits” were the pariahs of their society,
and all the dirtiest and most disagreeable work—cleaning out of privies,
etc.—fell to their share as a matter of course. They seemed to have lost
all power of will; and gambling—the source of all their sufferings—was
the only thing they cared for. They were always ready to steal anything
that came in their way, except from the “Ivans,” which would have had
dire results for themselves if discovered, probably a murderous
thrashing. I only knew one case of that kind, when a poor young fellow
stole a piece of bread from one of the “Ivans,” and the _artèl_ at once
decided that he should be punished exemplarily, “because he had stolen
from his own people.”

I have spoken before of this _artèl_, an extremely interesting
institution which has existed among criminals from time immemorial. It
is based on stringent and unalterable rules, the chief of which is that
each individual must yield implicit obedience to the will of the whole
_artèl_. All members are supposed to have, _de jure_, equal rights in
the organisation; but, _de facto_, the confirmed criminals, the old
experienced rogues and vagabonds, are the preponderating element, and it
is the “Ivans” that govern the rest ruthlessly in their own proper
interest. It is _their_ will that passes for the will of the whole body.
Without the sanction of the _artèl_ no agreement between individuals has
any force; only with its consent can any “swop” be carried out, and thus
a portion of the price always goes into the common exchequer. Once the
sanction of the _artèl_ is given there is no holding back; a criminal
who refused to fulfil his “swop” when he had agreed to it and received
his pay would have the whole combined _artèl_ against him. But such a
case never occurs; and fear of the _artèl’s_ vengeance is too great for
any treachery by its members. The lawful authorities would have no power
to shield such a traitor, and could not get him out of the clutches of
the organisation; for if he were moved to another prison the _artèl_
there would take on the feud and mete out vengeance to him, the leaders
invariably finding means to communicate with each other. In one respect
the solidarity of the _artèl_ is especially strong: it is represented in
all dealings with the authorities by its _stàrosta_ or head-man, elected
by the prisoners themselves from among their own ranks. This is a post
of honour, and is naturally always obtained by an experienced and crafty
rogue. He makes all arrangements concerning his constituents, receives
their food-money, and sees to its distribution. His authority over the
common herd is limitless; but he is directly dependent on the
leaders—the “Ivans”—who have carried through his election, and would be
powerless without their support, so that he has to keep on good terms
with them. The office of _stàrosta_ has its pecuniary advantages, and it
often happens that candidates for the post pay a considerable sum for
the votes of the powerful “Ivans.”

A less important, but equally profitable post is that of the
storekeeper, who trades with the other prisoners in tea, sugar, tobacco,
and other things of the kind, and—secretly—in spirits and playing-cards.
This privilege is granted by the _artèl_ for a fixed time to one of the
candidates for the office, who pays for it a certain sum into the common
chest. The chief profits accrue from the illicit sale of spirits and
hiring out of playing-cards. At night, as soon as the ordinary prisoners
were shut in, and often even by day, they might be seen squatting
together in groups to indulge in a game of chance. They would gamble
away not only their meagre food-allowance, but clothes, linen, boots,
the property of the State; for which they were of course accountable,
and for the loss of which—if discovered—they were liable to severe
punishment. Half naked, save for some miserable rags, the condition of
the wretched “biscuits” in bad weather was pitiable indeed; and when the
cold days of autumn came on they could be seen shivering from head to
foot, running instead of walking when on the march, to try and keep
warm. It was hard to understand how these men could endure the hunger
and cold they brought on themselves. We attempted to relieve them, but
could do very little; as, firstly, our own means were very limited; and,
secondly, they staked everything we gave them, at the first opportunity,
despite the most solemn promises. There was always an eager crowd around
any players, following the game with as much excitement as the
principals themselves could manifest; and occasionally a lucky winner
would share some of his gains with his starving comrades. It was the
custom, too, for the storekeeper to treat the whole company when his
term of office expired; that was a feast-day for the hungry, and you
might hear them say: “To-day we’ll eat our fill; the storekeeper pays”!

The officers of the escort on principle never interfered with the
affairs of the _artèl_, the prisoners themselves managing to keep order
so as to avoid any occasion for such interference or coercion. It was
certainly remarkable that this crowd of people, many of whom were
hardened robbers and murderers, should have been so easy to rule; for
the numbers of the escort were relatively small. No prisoner attempted
to escape, that being strictly forbidden by their rules during the
journey for fear of reprisals by the authorities against the _artèl_.
There were squabbles and scuffles, but never anything that necessitated
the interference of the soldiery; and though doubtless there was an
inordinate amount of drinking (for spirits were always to be had), no
drunkard was allowed to carry on any brawling under the eye of the
officer. The others saw to that. There was a tacit understanding between
the _artèl_ and the officer; the latter knew that if the prisoners were
allowed a free hand in certain matters he could count on them to keep
order among themselves, and never to cause him any trouble. He therefore
looked the other way when regulations were disregarded, as, for
instance, in the matter of fetters, which were always merely tied
together, not riveted; so that though worn on the march they could be
taken off at night—which was of course against rules. Among all the
different convoy officers (and there were forty stationed on the route
between Tomsk and Kara—men of very varied types), not one made any
exception to this rule. I have never observed any abuse of their power
in regard to the prisoners, nor that they were particularly rude and
rough in dealing with them; still less that they ever attempted to mulct
them of their food-money or other allowances. On the other hand, it
often happens that these officers are prosecuted for shortcomings of
this kind in connection with their subordinates, and even for direct
peculation. It must be remembered that the halting-stations are
established in the wilderness, far removed from the reach of the central
authorities, military and civil. It is easy, therefore, for a commanding
officer to abuse his position. Most of them get but a scanty education
in the lower military schools, and are then sent out into the Siberian
wilds, where many are naturally led to give the rein to their worst
qualities. The majority of them know no pleasure but debauchery, and
when drunk commit all kinds of excesses, gamble away the excise-money,
maltreat their inferiors, and so on.

There were a few officers with a taste for economy, and they were less
inclined to excess, but the soldiers were scarcely better off under
their rule—perhaps worse—than under that of the rakes and drunkards; for
these able financiers established such a thorough control of ways and
means in their department that their unfortunate men were not only
mercilessly fleeced, but made to do all sorts of work in house and field
in order to save paying for labour. However, this class was not a large
one.

To us “politicals” most of the officers behaved with formal correctness,
and tried to avoid any conflicts. But apart from their general attitude,
there were numerous petty details—slight enough in themselves, but of
great importance to us on such a long journey—that were sometimes
subjects of dispute; for instance, the hour of starting in the early
morning, as I have already mentioned; and we had discussions with
various officers about other things, such as keeping the wooden tub in
our room all night, which we declined to do, as it poisoned the air, and
also on account of the ladies who had to share the room with us. If the
officer were ill-tempered or obstinate, trifles like these might be the
occasion of insults and bullying on his side that would lead to revolt
and violence on ours; and then a court-martial with its cruel verdict
loomed before us. Fortunately, things never went so far as that,—thanks
partly to our having in our midst a few older and wiser heads, who
exercised a calming influence over the rest, besides three men who had
had considerable experience of intercourse with the authorities, as they
were going to Siberia for the second time, having previously been
“administratively” exiled—Malyòvany, Spandoni, and Tchuikòv. We owed
much also to the exertions and tactful counsel of our head-man, Làzarev.

It happened sometimes that we came across officers who were ready to
show us many small kindnesses—lending us newspapers and paying attention
to our comfort in any way possible to them. On one or two occasions we
had unexpected bits of good fortune. An officer, recognising a
school-friend in one of our comrades—Snigiriòv, a veterinary surgeon—was
much moved at the meeting, and during the two days of his accompanying
us did all he could to help us. Another officer announced himself as a
sympathiser with Socialism. He had mixed in revolutionary circles, and
made no secret of his views, being in entire agreement with us. He told
us he read a good deal of forbidden literature, and we discussed many
political problems with him. Naturally it was a pleasant surprise to
find a man of kindred opinions among the instruments of despotism.

The polite behaviour of most officers towards us may possibly have been
due to an amusingly mistaken notion, of which by chance we discovered
symptoms. On entering one of the halting-stations we found in the room
to which we were shown a plainly dressed man with handcuffs on his
wrists. He turned out to be a political exile named Stephen Agàpov,[62]
a factory hand, who was now being removed from Eastern to Western
Siberia as a mitigation of his punishment, in accordance with the
coronation manifesto of 1883. His wife, a Siberian peasant, accompanied
him. Agàpov explained to us that when our party was expected the officer
had ordered him to quit that room, because a party of “politicals” was
coming, composed entirely of counts and princes, and that these noble
personages would never put up with having a common workman in the room
with them. Agàpov and his wife thought this no reason why they should be
turned out of the room intended for political prisoners like themselves,
and they refused to obey, which led to a violent scene, and Agàpov was
put in irons. Worse still, the irate officer had another punishment in
store for him. The pair had with them all their belongings—the fruits of
hard work in Eastern Siberia—making a weight of luggage beyond what was
permitted by the regulations. The officer immediately ordered everything
above the prescribed weight to be sold by auction to the people of the
place—a pure piece of malice, as even the ordinary exiles were always
allowed excess luggage, and still more those who were benefiting by the
act of grace.

Footnote 62:

  Agàpov was sentenced in the case of fifty Propagandists, in 1887, to
  three years and eight months’ penal servitude. In 1880 he was released
  from prison and interned as a “colonist” in Eastern Siberia.

This tyrannical performance incensed us highly, and our good head-man
went at once to the officer with an appeal for the release of our
comrade from his fetters, which was granted without much ado. The comic
part of the affair was that we ourselves should figure as princes and
counts! In reality there was not one among us of such rank, but the
legend had probably arisen from the addresses of letters sent by members
of our party to Prince Volhònsky, Count Leo Tolstoi, and other
well-known people of title. The affair had further consequences for the
poor Agàpovs, as the officer reported them for disobedience, violence,
etc., and they were sent to one of those “towns” to the north of Tobolsk
that I have previously described—a far worse locality than that from
which they were being brought as an act of clemency.



                               CHAPTER XX
FROM KRASNOYARSK TO IRKUTSK—MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND DISPUTES—THE WOMEN IN
                             IRKUTSK PRISON


The distance from Tomsk to Krasnoyarsk is about five hundred versts, and
took us a full month to accomplish—twenty days on the march and ten days
of rest between the stages. In Krasnoyarsk we were to wait a week, the
ordinary prisoners being taken to the deportation prison and we
ourselves lodged in the town gaol. On arriving there we were struck by
the orderliness of the arrangements. The spacious new building was
freshly whitewashed, and the whole place spotlessly clean; there was
light and air in abundance, and there were no bars to the windows. We
might have imagined that we had been brought to a decent hotel; I have
certainly never seen another prison like it in either Siberia or Russia.
When we entered the corridor, however, the air of comfort was somewhat
lessened by inscriptions on the cell doors—“For murder”; “For robbery”;
“For theft,” etc. The governor, a pleasant-looking man, came up and
ordered briefly and decisively that we should be placed in separate
cells, and each according to his special class—convicts, exiles, and
“administratives”—as that was the rule of the place. This did not suit
us at all, and we explained to him the upset it would mean to our
feeding arrangements; besides which, as during our two months’ journey
we had clubbed all our luggage together, it would be very awkward to
change all that at a moment’s notice. Moreover, we told him, we did not
wish to be treated in any different way from that prescribed by the
regulations; that we were on transport, and therefore not supposed to
conform to the rules of the place, which only applied to prisoners on
remand or under sentence there. It had nothing to do with us, we said,
that we had not been taken to the deportation prison where we belonged;
and—to sum the matter up—we intended to do here as everywhere else,
_i.e._ we should divide into groups convenient to ourselves in the
different rooms, and might be locked up by night, but not by day, as set
forth in our instructions.

The governor was much put about at receiving this answer, and declared
he could on no account permit such an infringement of his regulations;
but we refused to be lodged separately, and remained firmly planted in
the corridor, bag and baggage. The chief of police was now sent for: a
perfect Falstaff, and—as it turned out—a very ignorant fellow. He
likewise pronounced that we must conform to the regulations; to which we
made our former reply, claiming our rights. As we were reasoning with
him, one of the ladies happened to mention the word “_goumànnost_”
(humanity), and—like the postmaster in Gogol’s immortal comedy, who did
not know whether “_mauvais ton_” might not mean something worse than
“rascal”—so this good man became uneasy as to whether the unfamiliar
word might not contain some offence, and demanded an explanation, with
which—repressing our amusement—we furnished him. In the end this
functionary decided that a still higher power must be referred to—the
governor of the district; meanwhile there next successively appeared the
colonel of the gendarmerie and the public prosecutor, to whom we again
explained our position. They could find nothing to say against our
representations, and after the discussion had lasted a long time—we
camping out in the passage all the while, unable to unpack or prepare a
meal (although we had eaten nothing since early morning and were
fearfully hungry)—at last the good people agreed that, pending the
arrival of the governor’s decision, we should make our own arrangements.

Next day as we sat at dinner the chief of police appeared in full parade
uniform, with his helmet on.

“Gentlemen, I am to inform you of the governor’s decision,” he began
ceremoniously, when our head-man interrupted him with the request that
he would uncover his head.

“Gentlemen, you see I am in parade uniform, and the helmet is part of
it; I cannot take it off,” he stammered, doubtful if this were not some
new form of insult.

“We do not care what sort of uniform it is,” answered Làzarev, with
imperturbable calm, “when you come into our room you will have the
kindness to remove your head-covering.”

“Now this is too much. I cannot, I really cannot take off my helmet,” he
declared, growing warm.

“Do as you please; but in that case we will not listen to the decision
of the governor,” said Làzarev.

The poor man looked from one to another, hesitated, and finally bared
his worthy head and imparted to us the formal decision: the governor
granted our desire.

I wonder how many officials have had to learn this elementary lesson in
politeness from us.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In Krasnoyarsk our party was diminished to eleven in number. The
veterinary surgeon Snigiriòv and the student Korniènko were to remain in
the government of Yenisei, and we had to leave Spandoni behind in the
prison, as he was ill.

We were two months on the journey from Krasnoyarsk to Irkutsk, a
thousand versts. In that whole distance there is only one town,
Nijni-Udînsk; and even this scarcely deserves the title. Here we met
comrades—a married couple named Novakòvsky—also on their way to Eastern
Siberia. I had known Novakòvsky in Kiëv; he had taken part in the 1876
demonstration in the Kazan Square in Petersburg, and had been banished
to Siberia. After the coronation manifesto in 1883, he was moved from
Balagansk, in the government of Irkutsk, to Minuisinsk, in the
government of Yenisei; but now he and his wife were being sent out to
the East, on the following account. For some reason or other Novakòvsky
had fallen out with the _ispravnik_[63] of Minuisinsk. Another of the
political exiles had occasion to apply to the _ispravnik_ for something;
the latter, mistaking him for Novakòvsky, received him with the grossest
incivility, and when he discovered his error, apologised by explaining
the mistake he had made. The thing was talked about, and came to the
ears of Novakòvsky and of his wife, who had voluntarily followed him
into banishment. For some days the exiles consulted together what should
be done, but before they had decided to take any steps, Novakòvsky’s
wife took the matter into her own hands; she went into the office and
gave the _ispravnik_ a box on the ear, with the words—“That’s for my
husband!” She was had up for trial, and sentenced by the court to
deportation into Eastern Siberia, whither her husband was now
accompanying her by his own desire.

Footnote 63:

  Head of the district police.

Later I learned to know and esteem Novakòvsky’s wife. She was a clever,
courageous woman, of lively and resolute disposition. I believe that
both she and her husband died in Siberia.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Our journey now proceeded much as heretofore, only in course of time the
regulations were less and less strictly observed. We left off our
fetters altogether, without any comment being made, and were never
bothered about head-shaving.

I looked forward with impatience to arriving at Irkutsk prison, where I
hoped to meet a friend of early days—Maria Kovalèvskaya. We had become
acquainted in 1875, belonged to the same section of the Buntari, and—as
was then customary among all the revolutionists—said “thee” and “thou”
to one another. Maria Kovalèvskaya[64] was one of the most remarkable
women in the movement; she was the daughter of a man of property named
Vorontsov, and had married Kovalèvsky, a tutor in a military gymnasium.
In the early sixties she joined the revolutionary movement, left her
husband and little daughter, and devoted herself to the work of the
party. She was small of stature and had something of the gipsy in her
looks; was lively and energetic in manner, keen of wit, ready and
logical in speech. She distinguished herself at all theoretical
discussions, always penetrating to the kernel of the question in hand,
and bringing life and point into the debate, without ever becoming
personal or hurting anyone’s feelings. She was esteemed very highly; and
people who were quite opposed to the Socialists fully appreciated her
exceptional gifts. In any other country she would have played a
distinguished part; in Russia she was condemned to fourteen years and
ten months’ penal servitude, because she was found in a house where some
revolutionists made armed resistance to the gendarmerie.[65] By her
courageous bearing during trial and in prison, as also later in Kara,
Maria Kovalèvskaya became one of the best-known characters in
revolutionary circles. In the prison, where she was witness of the
shameless unfairness and bad faith of officials at every turn, her
irrepressible energy found vent in upholding and defending the
prisoners. Whether the matter were really serious, or a comparative
trifle, whether the offence was committed by a functionary of high
position or by the meanest underling, her determination knew no
compromise; she made her protest regardless of consequence to herself,
would not rest till she had gained her end, and would rather have died
than have given in. She always stood firmly for the tactics of the
Buntari, _i.e._ to use the strongest and most radical measures for
enforcing a protest against official oppression. If there were any
discussion on this head her advice was always to annoy the staff
actively, to break windows, furniture, etc. It was only her strong sense
of comradeship that could induce her to bow to the will of the majority
and adopt more passive means, such as hunger-strikes or boycotting
officials. She had fought out a whole series of such conflicts, and one
of them—a dispute at Kara—had led to her being removed, with three
female comrades, to Irkutsk. No sooner, however, were they there than a
contest arose with the head of the police; and the four women in
consequence refused food, fasting so long (ten or eleven days, I
believe,) that the prison doctor became apprehensive of the result, and
the pressure of public opinion being brought to bear on the governor of
the district, he granted the requests of the women “politicals.”

Footnote 64:

  See portrait, p. 266.

Footnote 65:

  In this trial, of February, 1879, when the defendants were convicted
  of resisting arrest with arms in their hands, two men—Antònov and
  Brantner—were executed, the other ten condemned to long terms of penal
  servitude.

                  *       *       *       *       *

At last, towards the middle of September, we arrived at Irkutsk, the
capital of Siberia, and were taken to the local prison—celebrated like
that of Kiëv for many escapes of political prisoners.[66]

Footnote 66:

  In February, 1880, eight “politicals” condemned to penal servitude
  escaped from Irkutsk prison by breaking through the walls: Berezniàk
  (known also by the name of Tishtchenko), Volòshenko, Ivàntchenko,
  Alexander Kalyùshny, Nicholas Posen, Popko, Fomitchòv, and Yatsèvitch.
  They were all recaptured and their sentences increased, Berezniàk and
  Fomitchòv being chained to the wheelbarrow.

  Another escape was that of two women, Sophia Bogomòletz and Elizabeth
  Kovàlskaya, and they also were both recaptured after four weeks, but
  E. Kovàlskaya again escaped and was again recaptured. There were
  executed in this prison: Lyòchky, for unintentionally killing a
  warder, and Nyèüstroyev, a teacher in a gymnasium, for striking the
  Governor-General Anùtchin when the latter was visiting the prison.
  Shtchedrin, sentenced to life-long penal servitude, was condemned to
  death for striking the governor’s adjutant, but his sentence was
  reduced, and he was chained to the wheelbarrow. Later Shtchedrin was
  sent to Schlüsselburg, still chained to the barrow, and there he went
  mad and died.

We men were given a room in common, and the ladies were shown to
another. The moment we were shut in I flew to the window, climbed up,
and called the name of Maria Kovalèvskaya, for we had soon found out
that her cell was over ours. She answered at once, and we talked
together far into the night. In our walks we had subsequently many
opportunities of meeting during our eight days’ stay here. The long
years of separation had in no way impaired our intimacy. On the
contrary, from the first moment of meeting, our mutual sympathy found
expression without the need of many words, and we understood each other
as old friends do. The sufferings she had undergone moved me to the
deepest compassion. The hunger-strike of which I have spoken had taken
place only a short time before our advent, and she bore terrible traces
of its effect, looking as if but newly risen from the grave, though her
spirit was unbroken. It was still the same enthusiastic, untameable,
combative nature I had known so well. Even the officials could not
withstand the fascination of her personality, but yielded respect to her
strong sense of right and her inflexibility of purpose, as I soon
observed. We had each, naturally, much to relate; and I marvelled that
she could have retained such elasticity of mind, that the range of her
quick intellect should have in no wise contracted, that despite all she
had gone through she could laugh and jest as ever. Everything that was
going on in the distant lands of freedom interested her keenly; she
never wearied of questioning me about the state of public life in
Western Europe and in Russia, and she soon managed to find out in what
each of us could best instruct her. I, for instance, spent two or three
evenings in describing to her the working-men’s organisations in Western
Europe, and giving her my own impressions of life abroad. It was
characteristic of her that she was able to appreciate the peculiar
social conditions of other countries, although there was so much that
was unsympathetic to her as a Russian. She was especially indignant
about my treatment in German prisons.

In her own views she still adhered to the policy of the Buntari, and
this could hardly have been otherwise. Her past life entirely belonged
to the period when their views and those of the Naròdniki governed the
whole revolutionary movement, and there could be no question of
criticism. The simple programme of “stirring up the people to uprisings
and rebellions against the existing régime, in accordance with varying
local circumstances,” was in consonance with her fiery temperament,
impatient of all restraint.

Her three friends were also interesting characters, and I soon had
opportunities of talking to them and hearing the story of their
connection with the movement. First came the young Sophia
Bogomòletz;[67] her maiden name had been Prìsyetskaya, and she was the
daughter of a rich landed proprietor in the government of Poltava. She
had attended a higher grade school for girls, and later the medical
course in Petersburg; had married a physician, and then—like Maria
Kovalèvskaya—had left her husband and child to devote herself entirely
to revolutionary work. In 1880 she was arrested as a member of the South
Russian Workmen’s Union and sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude. She
attempted to escape,[68] but was recaptured, and was then given five
years more, which was again increased by a year in consequence of a
dispute with an official. Besides this she was placed in the category of
“on probation” prisoners, which means, as I shall explain later,[69]
that the term of actual confinement in prison is lengthened. She, too,
was by nature an advocate of revolt, and throughout her imprisonment
kept up a constant feud with the officials. She went even farther than
her friend Kovalèvskaya, for while the latter only fought against
injustice and tyranny, Sophia Bogomòletz looked on all prison officials
as her natural enemies, and held even the smallest compromises, such as
most prisoners are obliged more or less to give in to, as unprincipled
and inadmissible; for example, she looked upon the medical examination
of prisoners as a personal insult. She was influenced by no
considerations of health, and was always prepared to risk her own life,
if she judged there was any reason for doing so. The staff simply
trembled before her, for they knew that their only means of extorting
submission—the fear of punishment—was here of no avail.

Footnote 67:

  See portrait, p. 266.

Footnote 68:

  See note, p. 189.

Footnote 69:

  See p. 236.

The story of the third member of this little band was as follows. In the
spring of 1879 the sum of 1,500,000 roubles was stolen from the offices
of the Finance Department in Kherson, the depredators having broken in
through the wall of the adjoining house. On the same day the police
arrested a woman driving through the town in a country cart with some
suspicious-looking sacks. The woman was identified as Elena Ròssikova,
wife of a landed proprietor in the neighbourhood, and the sacks
contained a million roubles. With her another lady was also arrested;
and in consequence of the latter’s confession the rest of the money was
found, with the exception of some 10,000 roubles. It turned out that
this wild undertaking had been organised by Elena Ròssikova, who had
planned to rob the imperial purse, with the intention of applying the
money to revolutionary purposes. She and some other persons implicated
were tried before a court-martial, and she, as the ringleader, was
sentenced to penal servitude for life. She, too, waged unceasing war
against the whole staff of the prison, and was daunted by nothing when a
“protest” was in question.

The fourth of these women “politicals” was Maria Kutitònskaya. She had
been a pupil in a girls’ school in Odessa, and while still very young
had joined the revolutionists. In 1879 she was arrested as a comrade of
Lisogùb[70] and Tchubàrov, was condemned to four years’ penal servitude,
and sent to Kara. At the expiration of her sentence she was interned in
the town of Aksha in Transbaikalia; but she was soon back in prison. The
authorities had ill-treated the male prisoners in Kara (as to which I
shall speak later); and Kutitònskaya resolved to take vengeance on the
chief offender in the matter, the governor of the province, Ilyashèvitch
by name. She fired a pistol at him, but missed. The court-martial
condemned her to death, but this was altered to lifelong penal
servitude.

Footnote 70:

  This revolutionist was very rich; but lived in extreme poverty, that
  he might devote all his fortune to the cause. He was condemned to
  death in 1879 solely for that reason, as he had carefully
  abstained—contrary to his own most ardent inclinations—from giving any
  active help in the movement for fear of compromising himself and thus
  forfeiting the wealth which was practically supporting the party. See
  Stepniak’s _Underground Russia_.—_Trans._

Beautiful and distinguished-looking, with fair hair, and gentle, winning
manners, Maria Kutitònskaya won hearts by the score. While she was under
trial for the attempted assassination of the Siberian potentate she was
subjected to the most cruel and inhuman treatment; thrown into a damp,
gloomy dungeon, and allowed only bread and water. Help came to her from
the ordinary convicts, who had seen her in the prison, and worshipped
her; they brought her food at great risk to themselves, and did her
various other services. These criminals had changed her name a little to
suit themselves, and always called her “Cupidonskaya”; having thus
unconsciously hit on a charming pet-name for the beautiful woman. But
for their assistance she might not have survived her treatment at that
time; as it was, her long imprisonment undermined her health, and she
became a victim of lung trouble, to which she succumbed in 1887.



                              CHAPTER XXI
THE CHIEF OF POLICE AT IRKUTSK—MEETING WITH EXILED COMRADES—FROM IRKUTSK
       TO KARA—STOLEN FETTERS—A DUBIOUS KIND OF DECABRIST—ANOTHER
                  CONTEST—ARRIVAL AT OUR JOURNEY’S END


The detailed narrative of all that these women had gone through
impressed us greatly; for their sufferings had been severe, and often
caused by the most paltry tyranny. The wonder was that they had ever
been able to hold out. Our indignation against the chief of police,
under whose auspices this sort of thing had gone on, was naturally
roused to such a pitch that we longed for an opportunity to testify our
abhorrence of his conduct. This opportunity was soon forthcoming. A
higher official from Petersburg, who was inspecting Siberian prisons,
came one day with his suite into our cells, and the chief of police was
in attendance. The moment he entered, Làzarev, our head-man, went up to
him, (in accordance with a predetermined agreement of our party,) and
said in loud and distinct tones—

“We are astonished at your impudence in daring to appear before our
eyes, after having by your treatment forced our women comrades into a
terrible hunger-strike.”

The whole company of our visitors hastily took their departure, to the
tune of our comments and ejaculations, which contained nothing
flattering to the evildoer! No untoward results followed our action, and
the ladies heartily rejoiced at this humiliation of their torturer.

From these four we heard much about the conditions of life in Kara, our
appointed destination; as also from another comrade now in Irkutsk, who
could give us his personal experience of the prison there. This was
Ferdinand Lustig—formerly an artillery officer, and afterwards a student
at the Petersburg Technological Institute—who had been sentenced in
1882, in the case of Suhanov and Mihaïlov, to four years’ penal
servitude. He had now ended his term in Kara, and was going to be
interned elsewhere, under police supervision. What he told us was not
comforting: the régime was severe, and the governor of the political
prison—a captain of gendarmerie, named Nikolin—of the worst repute.

Four of us only were to travel eastward together: Maria Kalyùshnaya,
Tchuikòv, Làzarev, and myself. The other seven were to be sent to
various places in the government of Irkutsk; and the nineteen-year-old
Rubinok, whose sad case I have already described, was to go northward to
the deserts of Yakutsk.

                  *       *       *       *       *

At the end of September we started, in company with a party of ordinary
prisoners. We had now before us a journey of some twelve hundred versts
(eight hundred miles), which would take at least two months. Winter in
Siberia begins much earlier than in other places of the same latitude,
even in European Russia, and therefore we had to expect many hardships.
In two days the last steamboat was to start for Listvinitchnaya, across
Lake Baikal, and if we missed that we should have to winter in Irkutsk.

The tempestuous Baikal treated us kindly on the whole, though usually
the autumnal storms are a real danger to voyagers on its waters. It is
often asserted that the scenery of its shores rivals that of the Swiss
mountain lakes; and without myself instituting any comparison, I can
vouch for it that the impression those magnificent hills made on me was
unforgettable.

We had to pass a night at the landing-station on the opposite
shore—Mysovaya; and we had been already shut into our prison, when the
grating of the lock again sounded, and the warder brought in a young
lady, who came straight towards me.

“Sonia!” I cried, in joyful surprise, as I recognised in her Sophia
Ivànova, a dear friend whom I had not seen for six years. Like Sophia
Perovskaya, Vera Figner, and other prominent women of the terrorist
organisation, she had joined the new party of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_ in
the autumn of 1879, when the society of _Zemlyà i Vòlya_ (Land and
Liberty) was dissolved. It was just during that transition period that I
became acquainted with her and with other Terrorists; and shortly after,
in January, 1880, she was arrested in Petersburg, where she had been
assisting at the secret printing-press whence issued the organ of the
party, named like it, _Naròdnaia Vòlya_ (The People’s Will). At the time
of the arrest an armed resistance was made, in which Sophia Ivànova took
an active part, for which she was condemned to four years’
“katorga.”[71] This sentence having been fulfilled, she was now being
sent for internment into the government of Irkutsk.

Footnote 71:

  _i.e._ penal servitude.—_Trans._

We were both heartily rejoiced at seeing one another again, but our
meeting could be only a brief one; the steamboat was to start almost
directly on its return journey, and Sonia could not miss it. We
hurriedly exchanged news of ourselves and of our common friends; then
came our parting, and I have never seen her since. To the best of my
knowledge she is still living in Siberia.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Soon after this we arrived at Verkhny-Udinsk, where—as in most Siberian
towns—the prison was filled to overflowing, and no room could be found
for us “politicals.” The sergeant (in Transbaikalia the convoys of
prisoners are always commanded by a sergeant, instead of by a
commissioned officer, as on the previous part of the journey) took us on
to the police-station. As, however, it was late the place was all
deserted, and no official could be found, which disturbed the sergeant
no whit; he simply left us there by ourselves in the office, with
unbolted windows and doors, and went his way. We also were free to go or
stay as we pleased, and were rather surprised at his calm way of solving
the difficulty. But the man knew what he was about. It was true enough
that we could walk off without anyone being the wiser; but what then? It
was, indeed, always easy to escape from prison here; but it was
well-nigh impossible to get any further. Elizabeth Kovàlskaya had twice
escaped from prison in Irkutsk (once disguised as a warder), but on both
occasions she was caught before she had left the town; and if she had
found concealment impossible in a relatively big place like Irkutsk,
with all the allies and money she had at command, the case must
certainly have been hopeless for us, strangers, in a little hole like
Verkhny-Udinsk. Still, it was a curious feeling at the time, as I well
remember, to know oneself free and under no kind of observation, and yet
to be so helpless. We finished by waxing restive and miserable over the
trap we were in.

In this place we met another comrade on his way from Kara, going off to
be interned elsewhere. This was Steblin-Kamensky,[72] whom his wife
voluntarily accompanied. They had been too late for the steamer, and
were now obliged to wait in Verkhny-Udinsk till the way again became
open—three or four months probably. During that time he was at liberty
to go about in the place as he pleased, and naturally we spent together
the two days of our sojourn here, Kamensky telling us all he could of
life in Kara. He was a brilliant talker, and described with an
inexhaustible flow of humour the doings of our comrades in every
particular. True, our laughter over his stories was mingled with much
sorrow and indignation, for what he related was often sad enough. He
told us of the bitter hardships inflicted on our comrades by an inhuman
gaoler, and he described Captain Nikolin, in command over the penal
settlement for “politicals” at Kara, as a malicious, ill-natured man,
continually devising petty humiliations for the prisoners.

Footnote 72:

  In 1879 he had been condemned, at the same time as Maria Kovalèvskaya,
  to ten years’ “katorga,” for armed resistance to the police. He
  afterwards committed suicide in Irkutsk.

These various comrades, from whose personal knowledges we had
information about Kara, all made the same impression upon us. They bore
the stamp of their long imprisonment; their voices were muffled in tone;
anxiety, deep and constant, was painted on their faces; the hair of
nearly all, despite their youth—hardly any had reached thirty—was
prematurely grey. But discouraged and broken-spirited they were _not_;
or at least with one or two exceptions only. Very few of them could
regard the future with any hopeful feelings for themselves personally.
Long years of exile lay before them, doomed as they were to vegetate in
some forsaken corner of Siberia, victims to all sorts of hardships, far
from friends and civilisation. To many it seemed questionable whether
their future lot might not be more dreary than prison life itself. Yet
even the semblance of freedom attracted them—a doubtful freedom
certainly, for the exiles, or “colonists” as they are called, are
subject to a thousand and one restrictions at every turn.

I met one only who looked forward with a steadfast confidence in the
bright side of things, and this notwithstanding the fact that he was
bound for the worst part of Siberia—the government of Yakutsk. Ivan
Kashintsev[73] was then only twenty-five, and full of youth and high
spirits; he declared to me, on the occasion of our meeting at one of the
halting-stations (we already knew each other), that he meant to escape
at all hazards. This, in fact, he accomplished later, and he is now
living abroad.

Footnote 73:

  He was sentenced to ten years’ “katorga” in 1881 for taking part in
  the South Russian Workmen’s Union, and in consequence of the
  Coronation manifesto a third of this sentence was remitted.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Before those who were released from prison, to live in exile under
police supervision, reached their appointed destinations, they had at
that time many difficulties and delays to encounter. We ourselves went
at a snail’s pace on our way to Kara, but prisoners coming thence
progressed far more slowly. They had to wait at nearly every
halting-station until some convoy on the homeward journey could pick
them up and take them on for a certain part of the way, and sometimes
they were kept in this manner nearly a week at a station. On an average
they barely made five versts a day, and when the distance they had to
travel was some hundreds or even thousands of versts, the journey might
take months to perform.

At each meeting with comrades on the return journey from Kara, I could
not help thinking of my own future, and saying to myself, “What will you
feel like when after long years you tread this path again? Or, indeed,
will you ever tread it?”

                  *       *       *       *       *

One day I found I had sustained an odd loss: someone had made off with a
bag in which I kept some of my belongings, the chief item among them
being my fetters! I had to make the somewhat curious confession to the
commanding officer that, instead of wearing my chains, I had allowed
them to be stolen; and I was rather surprised that, while commiserating
me on account of my personal losses, he did not seem at all agitated
about the loss of the Government’s property.

“What am I to do without my fetters?” I asked him, when I saw that the
absence of this important detail in the attire of a convict left him
unmoved.

“Well, of course we must get some for you somehow,” opined the officer.
“Just wait a moment; there ought to be things of the kind lying about
somewhere.” And he gave the sergeant orders to look in the lumber-room,
where a new pair of fetters was discovered.

“Take care you don’t lose these!” said the officer, as I packed them
among my luggage.

This is a specimen of the indulgent, almost fatherly demeanour which our
guardians more and more assumed towards us as we got further east.

We were by this time in the thick of the Siberian winter and its
severities. We had passed the Yablonovoi mountain ridges, and were
nearing Tchita, the capital of Transbaikalia. At the last station before
our arrival there we observed a great bustle going on among the ordinary
prisoners; the sergeant and the soldiers were occupied with them all
night, continually going in and out in a quite unusual manner. We racked
our brains to imagine what could be on foot; but the riddle was only
solved next day, as will be seen further.

Although the distance from Tchita was considerable for one day’s
march,—about forty versts (twenty-six miles), I think,—we started very
late on the following morning; but after about twenty versts’ march we
came to a lonely farmhouse, standing all by itself on the high-road. We
had heard from our comrades who had been in Kara that an old man lived
here who gave himself out as a Decabrist.[74]

Footnote 74:

  The participators in the revolt of December, 1825, on the occasion of
  Nicholas I.’s accession, were so called.

Our party halted in the courtyard, we “politicals” were shown into a
room, and the master of the house presently paid us a visit. He
introduced himself by the name of Karovàiev; and was a vivacious old
gentleman, of eminently respectable appearance. According to his account
of himself he had been an ensign in the Guards, had taken part in the
revolt of the Decabrists, and had been exiled to Siberia; he claimed to
be eighty years of age, but did not look more than sixty-five. He made
himself very agreeable, and was most anxious to show us hospitality,
declining to take any money from us. Meanwhile in the next room and the
corridor things were very lively; there seemed to be a sort of combined
market and feast going on, soldiers and convicts eating, drinking, and
hobnobbing together like boon companions.

It was already dark when we arrived at the gates of the prison in
Tchita, where we had at once to engage in a struggle with the governor:
first, because he received the ordinary prisoners first, leaving us to
wait; and next, because he gave us a room which was absolutely unfit for
us to spend the night in. Only after we had made a great fuss, and
threatened him with complaints, did he give us proper accommodation.

Next day, when the party was mustered for departure, it became apparent
that the ordinary prisoners had hardly any clothes! Their things had
vanished, and they were literally half naked. A light was now cast on
the events of the preceding night, when there had been such a carousal
at the house of the Decabrist. That respectable and hospitable old
gentleman was evidently in league with the escort, and had provided the
convicts with vodka and other delicacies, in exchange for their
clothing, which no doubt he had obtained at a bargain. That the
transaction might not be discovered before our arrival in Tchita, the
soldiers saw to it that it should be as late as possible before we got
in, so that the inspection should be gone through hurriedly, and the
absence of the clothes not perceived.

In short, the respectable Karovàiev had not established himself in that
lonely spot for nothing. The jollification of the unlucky criminals had
evil consequences for themselves. In proportion as their clothing and
other State property were deficient they were treated to the soundest of
thrashings; and only when that had been administered did they receive a
fresh outfit.

In Tchita we had to part from our good _stàrosta_ Làzarev, who was to be
interned here. We three others determined to secure for ourselves a
thorough rest in this place; for we had been six weeks on the march from
Irkutsk, and were thoroughly tired out. We felt in no hurry to go on; a
prison awaited us, while on the journey we had at least a certain amount
of freedom and variety. Moreover, we knew that there were a number of
our comrades interned at Tchita, and we should be able to see something
of them; while apparently all intercourse with the outer world would
cease for us after this stage, where we must make our last adieux before
the prison doors closed on us. We therefore reported ourselves sick, and
easily got the prison doctor’s consent to our breaking the journey here;
which meant that we should be picked up by the next convoy in about a
fortnight’s time. Our comrades paid us frequent visits; that is, they
came to the prison gate when we were in the courtyard. The most
interesting news they gave us concerned the travels of the American
writer, George Kennan, who had just arrived in Tchita on his return
journey from Kara; and our friends were full of praise for that
excellent man.

During the last days of November we started again, this time in company
with a so-called “family party” of ordinary prisoners—women and children
as well as men going forward to prison and exile. There had not been
much snow that winter, and instead of sledges two-wheeled carts were our
means of transport, travelling in which was a positive martyrdom. The
cold became more intense every day, and tried us severely, although we
wore every warm garment we possessed, so that we moved with the greatest
difficulty. The only way to keep warm was to march beside the carts, and
one can imagine the sufferings of the unfortunate children who were
accompanying their parents into this inhospitable desert. One longed for
the next halting-station and for possibilities of warming oneself, which
even there were not always all that could be desired. The
halting-stations had sometimes not been heated for a good while, and the
ordinary prisoners had first to chop wood with their numb and frozen
hands; even then there was not always sufficient fuel. The stoves, too,
were often out of order, and smoked so badly that to stay in the room
was a misery. It happened repeatedly that we three “politicals” were
accommodated in a peasant’s hut, and sometimes the whole party had to be
quartered in like manner. We were always glad when this happened, for
the wretchedest cabin seemed comfortable in comparison with even the
best _étape_. How often we wished we could be by ourselves in a hut of
this kind during the rest of our imprisonment!

                  *       *       *       *       *

I have said that relations between prisoners and escort were now very
easy-going; strict discipline was no longer the watchword on either
side. This had its disadvantages, the soldiers being often very rough
with the ordinary prisoners. One day, as we were marching to Nertchinsk,
I saw a soldier behaving very brutally to a poor feeble old convict,
knocking him about with his rifle-butt for climbing on to one of the
carts, and apparently only because the soldier had meant to ride on it
himself. I intervened, and called to the sergeant in command that I
should report him for not keeping his men in order. Next day, as we went
through the town on our way to the prison, I stepped into a sausage shop
to buy some provisions, when the soldier whose party I had left called
after me, “Where are you going? What do you want?” I let him shout, and
concluded my purchases. I then saw that the sergeant had driven on and
disappeared, but I only thought that he had taken some short cut to the
prison and would meet us there, and I was much surprised when the
governor of the gaol received me with the information that the sergeant
had reported me for insulting the guard and leaving the ranks without
permission. I suppose he wished to forestall the complaint I had
threatened him with, about which I had quite forgotten, and I now turned
the tables on him by making it in due form. The upshot was that the
sergeant apologised to me in the presence of witnesses, and we were
respectively pleased to withdraw our complaints!

At Nertchinsk, Tchuikòv and I were taken to the men’s prison, and Maria
Kalyùshnaya was given a separate cell. I shall never in my life forget
the picture that prison presented. From the dimly-lighted corridor one
could see into the various rooms, where the prisoners were already lying
down, as it was late. Packed closely side by side they lay not only on
the wooden bed-places (which were two wide shelves running along the
walls one above the other), but all about the floor; there was literally
not an inch of vacant space. Most of the men were clad in shirt and
trousers, but many had only trousers on, and lay uncovered on the filthy
floor. The throng was so dense, that in order to get to the “privileged”
room we had actually to step on the bodies of the sleepers. The stench
was pestilential, the wooden tubs filled with excrement were everywhere
about, and as they were leaky their contents had been trodden over the
whole floor. Although most of the men were asleep, here and there groups
of excited card-players squatted on the floor or the bed-places, and
throughout the whole place there was a deafening babel of sounds. The
general effect was most gruesome, a circle of the Dantean Inferno was
the only possible comparison.

The “privileged” room was also full of people, and we found there some
comrades from Kara—Tchekondze and Zuckermann. They were lying close
together on the crowded floor, and we with difficulty found a vacant
spot, so that we could lie down near our friends. Zuckermann was known
to me: he was a compositor, who in the middle of the sixties had trudged
on foot from Berlin into Switzerland, where I subsequently had made his
acquaintance. He had gone to Russia later, and had worked at the secret
printing-press of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, where he was arrested at the
same time as Sophia Ivànova. I had been told by comrades how heroically
he had behaved during the trial. In order to shield the others he had
taken all blame on his own shoulders, declared that it was he who had
fired the first shot in resistance to the gendarmerie, and so on. He had
been condemned to eight years’ “katorga” and sent to Kara, where he had
become the darling of the whole prison. Always sunny-tempered, full of
wit and fun, he spread good humour everywhere; moreover, he was
unselfishness personified, ever ready to help others at his own expense,
one of those people who are called “too good for this world.” Even as we
lay on the floor in that horrible place he told stories and jested,
drawing the most glowing imaginary pictures of his future life in
Yakutsk, whither he was being sent for internment. The reality,
unhappily, turned out widely different from his sanguine prophecies.
Poor merry Zuckermann could not hold out against the hardships and
loneliness of his place of exile, and he put an end to his own life.

Tchekondze I had not met before, but we had many common friends. He came
from Gruzia, and had graduated in the Petersburg college for artillery
officers. With other Caucasians he had then participated in the
Propagandist movement, had been arrested in 1875, and sentenced in the
“Trial of the fifty” to banishment; but he had escaped from Siberia, and
had been recaptured and condemned to three years’ penal servitude. He
was now going into exile in Yakutsk. He impressed one as a
strong-willed, careful, practical man, who would never be at a loss, but
would find a sphere of usefulness under any circumstances; and so indeed
he proved in his after life. The privations he suffered during long
years of exile undermined his health, however. When sent to Western
Siberia in the early nineties he fell seriously ill and died in Kurgan,
on the threshold of Europe, in 1897.

At last, on the morning of December 24th, 1885, we arrived at Ust-Kara,
a little village wherein is situated the prison for ordinary convicts
and the prison for women “politicals.” Here we had to part from Maria
Kalyùshnaya, and I saw her that morning for the last time. Tchuikòv and
I had fifteen versts more to travel to Nizhnaya Kara, where was the
prison for male “politicals”; and we had to wait till next day for the
commandant, who received in charge both ourselves and the ordinary
criminals. Our luggage was put into a cart; and accompanied by a guard,
we marched off, having previously donned our fetters in due form.

It was a frightfully cold day, and despite the chains and our heavy
clothing, we stepped out briskly as though we were in a hurry to get
under lock and key. We knew that this was our last tramp in the open,
that for many long years there would be only a trot round the
prison-yard for us, and our thoughts dwelt dismally on the prospect.

“There is your prison,” said one of the soldiers, and pointed out, a
little way ahead, a stockade made of tall posts set side by side.

Suddenly there appeared coming towards us a group of people—two women, a
Cossack, and a man in civilian dress. “Victor!” I cried, recognising the
latter as we approached nearer. It was my old friend Victor Kostyùrin,
whom I had not seen for nine years.[75] He was now being removed from
prison to his place of internment.

Footnote 75:

  He had been sentenced in 1879 to ten years’ “katorga,” on account of
  the assault on Gorinòvitch (see page 11).

After hasty greetings he introduced me to the two ladies who accompanied
him—Natalia Armfeld and Raissa Prybylyèva, both “colonists” in Kara.
Kennan has given Natalia Armfeld’s story in his book,[76] and I will
only mention here that in 1879 she (with Maria Kovalèvskaya) was
implicated in armed resistance to the gendarmerie, and sentenced to
fourteen years and ten months’ penal servitude. Raissa Prybylyèva had
been a member of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, and had been sentenced in 1883
to four years’ “katorga.”

Footnote 76:

  _Siberia and the Exile System_, by George Kennan.

Victor and I had, of course, much to say to each other, but our time was
short, for our guards naturally did not see the fun of remaining longer
than necessary in the freezing cold of the open field, and a few brief
sentences were all we could exchange.

“A Frenchman would have had a lot to say about this,” I said: “we two
friends meeting on the threshold of a prison, one going in, the other
coming out.”

Another pressure of the hand, and we parted.[77]

Footnote 77:

  Everyone will see the dramatic element in this situation if it is
  remembered that this friend had been tried and condemned on account of
  that attempt to kill the spy Gorinòvitch, in which Deutsch had been
  the chief actor; and that now the one had just finished his term of
  imprisonment, while the other was commencing his.—_Trans._

“Shall we ever meet again?” I asked.

“Ah yes!” cried one of the ladies. “We shall all meet in Petersburg at
the triumph of the Russian revolution.”

For her, at least, that hope was vain. Natalia Armfeld died at Kara in
1887, and Raissa Prybylyèva (who married afterwards the exile Tiutchev)
is also no longer among the living. Kostyùrin still lives in Tobolsk;
but since that day our paths have never again crossed.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Tchuikòv and I were now taken to the guard-room, which was close to the
prison. Our arrival was notified; and soon there appeared, accompanied
by some of the gendarmes, the governor of the prison, an officer of
Cossacks named Bolshakov, a man who had been described to us by our
comrades as respectable and humane.

We and our luggage were carefully searched. Of our clothes only our warm
under-garments were left in our possession; everything else was to be
taken to the wardrobe-room, except certain articles which were reserved
that Commandant Nikolin might decide whether we should be permitted to
retain possession of them.

“You need not put the fetters on again,” said the captain of the guard,
Golubtsòv. “They are not necessary here.”

It was evening before we were ready to be taken on by the gendarmes to
the prison—the goal of my long wanderings. Since my arrest in Freiburg
twenty-two months had elapsed; I had travelled about 12,000 versts
(nearly 8,000 miles), and I had visited more than a hundred different
prisons.

“Guard, there!” cried our escort. A bolt flew back with a crash, and we
stepped across the threshold.

[Illustration: MARTINOVSKY]

[Illustration: STARINKYEVITCH]

[Illustration: SUNDELEVITCH]

[Illustration: ZLATOPOLSKY]

[Illustration: PRYBYLYEV]

[Illustration: YEMELYANOV]

To face page 208



                              CHAPTER XXII
                 FIRST DAYS AT KARA—FRIENDS OLD AND NEW


We entered a long, dimly-lighted corridor. Close to the door stood a man
in convict dress beside a mighty chest. “Good day, Martinòvsky!” said I;
for although I had never seen him before, I knew from our comrades’
descriptions that he, being _stàrosta_, remained on duty from early
morning till late evening by this big chest, which was the prisoners’
larder. He looked a little surprised at the greeting, but on our
announcing our names a pleasant smile lighted up his grave features, and
he shook hands with us warmly.

“Deutsch goes to No. 2 and Tchuikòv to No. 4!” The gendarme’s
announcement interrupted us. A door was opened, and I stepped into my
room. It was a large apartment; a long table and benches stood in the
middle; round three walls ran the bed-shelves; there was a huge stove,
and three great windows admitted plenty of light.

My new companions welcomed me warmly. There were fifteen men in the
room, two of them—Sundelèvitch and Paul Orlov—being already known to me
from of old. The first question to be settled was where my
sleeping-place should be, and it was decided that I should lie next to
Sundelèvitch, which meant that Starinkyèvitch, whose place this had
been, must find room elsewhere. I found later that it was a great
sacrifice this comrade had made for me, for Starinkyèvitch was thereby
separated from his friend Martinòvsky. In a room where so many men lived
constantly crowded together, the only possibility of close intercourse
and the sharing of intimate thoughts between two friends was when they
lay side by side on the bed-shelf, and it was only subsequently that I
found out what significance this had in our situation.

When we arrived, supper was already over, but we were given each a glass
of tea with a tiny scrap of sugar, and a piece of black bread. I was
overwhelmed with questions, and was made to tell all about my arrest, my
adventures, and what was going on in Russia. We chattered, joked, and
laughed as only the young can, for except Berezniàk and Dzvonkyèvitch,
who were forty and forty-five respectively, we were all between the ages
of twenty-four and thirty. I had an odd feeling, as if after a long
absence I found myself once more in an intimate family circle. Time
flew, and it was late at night before I lay down to sleep, spreading on
the wooden boards of the bed-shelf a little mattress that I had brought
with me. My journey from Moscow had lasted seven months; I was sick of
moving about, and now experienced a real feeling of comfort at the idea
of having come to anchor for years.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I had been rejoicing much beforehand at the prospect of meeting in Kara
my old friend Jacob Stefanòvitch,[78] from whom I had last parted four
years ago, in Switzerland. He had then returned to Russia, had been
arrested in February, 1882, convicted in the “Case of the Seventeen,”
and sentenced to eight years’ “katorga.” He had been two years in Kara
before my arrival. As he was lodged in another room I could only pay him
a flying visit that evening, for soon after our entrance the rounds were
made and the doors all locked for the night. Next morning, as soon as
the rounds had been made and the roll-call got over, I called to the
gendarmes through the peephole in our door, and made them take me to No.
1 room, where Stefanòvitch was. During the daytime we were permitted to
go from one room to another—a privilege obtained by the “politicals”
only after a long, hard fight, although in the criminals’ prison the
doors of the rooms had never been kept locked by day.

Footnote 78:

  See portrait, p. 112. Stefanòvitch was one of the most prominent of
  the Terrorists, who, helped chiefly by Deutsch and Bohanòvsky,
  succeeded in instructing and organising several thousands of peasants,
  and was on the point of heading their insurrection when he was
  arrested in 1877. Stefanòvitch, Deutsch, and Bohanòvsky were
  imprisoned at Kiëv, and their escape thence has been related (note, p.
  98). Stepniak describes Stefanòvitch (see _Underground Russia_, _Jacob
  Stefanovic_, and _Two Escapes_) as of very strong and original
  character, extremely reserved, speaking rarely, and, though a man of
  action, very cautious and practical. He was the son of a village
  priest, and kept up constant intercourse with his old father, even
  when it was most dangerous for him to do so, at a time when whole
  cities would be thrown into a ferment if his presence in them were
  suspected. His personal appearance Stepniak describes thus: “He was of
  middle height, and somewhat slender, hollow-chested, and with narrow
  shoulders. Physically, he must have been very weak. I never saw an
  uglier man. He had the face of a negro, or rather of a Tartar,
  prominent cheek-bones, a large mouth, and a flat nose. But it was an
  attractive ugliness. Intelligence shone forth from his grey eyes. His
  smile had something of the malign and of the subtly sportive, like the
  character of the Ukrainian race to which he belongs. When he mentioned
  some clever trick played off upon the police he laughed most heartily,
  and showed his teeth, which were very fine and white as ivory. His
  entire countenance, with his wrinkled forehead and his cold, firm
  look, expressed a resolution and at the same time a self-command which
  nothing could disturb. I observed that in speaking he did not use the
  slightest gesture.” Stefanòvitch has now (1903) been over twenty years
  in Siberia. It was expected that in May this year he would be
  liberated so far as to be permitted to reside in some outlying
  province of European Russia, but this hope has not been
  realised.—_Trans._

In No. 1 there were also sixteen men, that being the complete number;
and now that we had arrived every room was full. After greeting the
comrades here and chatting with my friend, I visited all the other
rooms. Of course, the advent of a new-comer is a great event in the
prison, and is generally expected beforehand, for notwithstanding all
official precaution, a good deal of intelligence from without finds its
way through the walls. The arrival is awaited with the greatest
impatience, as may be imagined; and for a few days the monotony of the
life is enlivened by the new-comer’s tidings of the world in general and
of the revolutionary movement in particular.

Not only had I much to tell, but I was much interested in learning the
views of my comrades, though all that I heard was not entirely to my
liking. I recollect a conversation I had with an old acquaintance,
Volòshenko,[79] who passed for a very intelligent man. He had been
arrested at Kiëv in 1879, and sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude,
afterwards increased by eleven years more in consequence of an attempted
escape. When I spoke of the new tendencies in the Russian revolutionary
movement, and mentioned that a Socialist group had been formed calling
itself the “League for the Emancipation of Labour,” and professing the
Marxian views held by the German Social Democrats, Volòshenko seemed
highly amused.

Footnote 79:

  See note, p. 189.

“Social Democrats in Russia! That’s a comical idea! Who are these
people?”

“You see one of them before you,” I replied.

Volòshenko and many others in the room stared in blank astonishment. Had
I announced myself a follower of the prophet Mahomet they could scarcely
have been more surprised. The ideas of Karl Marx were at that time but
little known in Russia. It was indeed thought one’s duty to read the
first volume of _Das Kapital_, which had appeared in a Russian
translation, and it was usual to find educated people in European Russia
recognising Marx’s services to the science of political economy; but in
Kara they had not progressed even so far. As to the philosophical basis
of Marx’s theory of Socialism practically nothing was known;
nevertheless it was rejected, partly owing to the influence of Eugene
Dühring, partly to that of the Russian author N. Mihailovsky, and
finally on account of a _dictum_ of so-called “sane common sense” that
Marx’s ideas were quite inapplicable to Russia. This last was
Volòshenko’s contention, fortified, however, by no personal knowledge of
Marx’s writings.

I was in a position to give more than verbal tidings of the new
tendency. We had succeeded, despite all official scrutiny, in smuggling
various prohibited writings into the prison, and among them the first
publication of our group, Plehànov’s _Socialism and the Political
Struggle_. For a long time no forbidden literature had penetrated to
Kara; the excitement was great, and the new material for thought was
seized on with avidity. I was very anxious to discover Sundelèvitch’s
attitude towards this problem, for in the old days, when we were nearly
all Terrorists, he was considered as more or less of a Social
Democrat—at any rate, he had been known to approve of the German
development on those lines, so far as that country was concerned. We had
been acquainted in 1878, when he had in charge the transport of
forbidden literature for the _Zemlyà i Vòlya_ (Land and Liberty) group;
and he had made use of his special experience in such illegal traffic to
get Stefanòvitch and myself safely across the frontier after our flight
from Kiëv prison. At that time we had had many hot discussions with
Sundelèvitch over the methods of conducting our struggle in Russia; for
I was then a decided opponent of the Social Democrats, and as a
Terrorist and “Naròdnik” (_i.e._ member of the party whose object it was
to organise revolts among the peasants) held the peaceful tactics of
German Socialists to be utterly ineffectual—naturally, therefore, I
would have all the more scouted the idea of introducing them into
Russia. Sundelèvitch, on the contrary, did not believe in “the People,”
and thought agitation among the Russian working-classes quite futile. In
his opinion the first thing to do was to fight for political freedom;
and then, as soon as that was obtained, to resort to the constitutional
methods of the German Social-Democratic party. Consequently, he did not
join the terrorist party till it began its political activity in 1878;
and he was one of the first to enunciate the idea that its methods were
only temporarily adopted because they offered the sole possible means in
Russia of overthrowing the existing political order. He was one of the
most energetic in organising terrorist conspiracies, and the party owed
much to his help in carrying through their active work; he was
invaluable in striking out the most effective and practical suggestions.
He was arrested quite by chance in a public library in Petersburg during
the autumn of 1879, and was prosecuted in the “Case of the Sixteen,”
when Kviatkòvsky and Pressnyàkov were sentenced to death, and he himself
to lifelong penal servitude.

I had been thinking much about our former arguments, for I had since
been converted to the views Sundelèvitch then advocated, and I now hoped
to find a kindred spirit in him. Even on purely personal grounds I
desired it; for when a man is convinced of the rightness of his own plan
of action, it must be irksome to live for years with others who, while
sharing his principles, differ entirely as to the best means of carrying
them out; and this is especially so when what one holds most sacred is
in question, no matter how tolerant one may be. I earnestly hoped I
should not be alone in my views, and I could have asked for no better
friend than Sundelèvitch, who was incomparable as a comrade—one of the
finest natures I have ever known, unselfish, trustworthy, judicious.

As I now lay beside him during the long evenings we talked of our common
friends still in freedom and fighting for the cause, of the victims of
that fight who had died the death of heroes or were languishing in
Schlüsselburg; but instinctively I shrank at first from touching on
theoretical subjects, dreading that we might be out of sympathy, for I
soon heard that he was no longer of his old way of thinking. Like many
others during their first years of imprisonment, Sundelèvitch
experienced a reaction; he absolutely threw over the Marxian doctrine,
and would not admit the economic teaching of _Das Kapital_ to be sound.
In time we fought many a tough battle on this head, my friend declaring
that for Germans Social Democracy might do, but that such ideas would
never effect anything in Russia.

With my other friend, Stefanòvitch, I had less opportunity for
conversation, as we inhabited different rooms; but to him also my
opinions came unexpectedly, and seemed strange and incomprehensible.
When we had parted four years back we had been quite at one, and he had
remained, as he was then, half Naròdnik, half Terrorist; while I, having
thoroughly assimilated the new ideas, had, with some other companions,
founded the Social Democratic organisation, _Tchòrny Peredyèl_
(Redivision of the Land). He learned this now for the first time, and
could not tell off-hand how he should regard it; but being unusually
thoughtful and far-seeing, he appreciated the importance of the change
that had come over the opinions of his comrades in the struggle. He
grasped the trend of the new doctrine, and tried to comprehend it fully.
It was clear to him that through our organisation a way was being laid
in Russia for a perfectly new outlook on the world; he doubted whether
it would find favour in our country, but was far from meeting the idea
with enmity or contempt, as the shallower minds among the revolutionists
did both then and later.

This common life of so many young people in the prison had led to the
development of a peculiar jargon. Each room had its nickname: the first
was “the Sanhedrin,” the second “the nobles’ room,” the third “Yakutsk,”
and the fourth “Volost,” _i.e._ “the commune.” These names had their
origin in the dim and distant past, and I never discovered what had
given rise to them.

The inmates of the “nobles’ room,” in which I was located, were all
clever, well-educated young men, full of life and vigour; each in a way
represented a different type, and some had a really remarkable force of
character. Among these latter I would especially class Nicholas
Yatzèvitch, who was the son of a priest in Poltava. When a
seventeen-year-old student in the Veterinary College at Kharkov he was
arrested for attempting to rescue Alexei Medvediev[80] from prison, was
tried, and sentenced to fifteen years’ “katorga.” He had escaped (as I
have said before) from the Irkutsk prison, had been recaptured, and
condemned to another fourteen years’ penal servitude. He was barely
nineteen when brought to Kara, where he gained the goodwill of everyone
by his admirable qualities. Modest even to bashfulness, silent and
reserved, he yet exercised over his companions a quite wonderful
influence. His thirst for knowledge was without limit; he studied
various subjects with unflagging industry while in prison, especially
natural science, philosophy, and literature, besides learning several
languages. He found time, too, for manual work, at which he proved
himself very quick and adroit. He was on friendly terms with every one
of his comrades in prison without exception, always affectionate and
ready to help. No wonder he gained the esteem of all, and was willingly
looked up to as an authority, despite his youth (he was but
five-and-twenty when I first went to Kara); whether the question were
one of household affairs or an abstruse theoretical problem, his opinion
was sure to find favour with the majority. The bent of his mind was
towards metaphysics, and in philosophy as well as social science he gave
himself out as an eclectic; he shared the opinions of Dühring and the
Neo-Kantians, and in political economy was a follower of Carey, Bastian,
and similar bourgeois theorists. Of course, therefore, he counted among
the opponents of Marxism.

Footnote 80:

  See chap. xxv. p. 262.

Of very different character were the two bosom friends Martinòvsky and
Starinkyèvitch, usually called “the two Vanitchki,” though really only
one of them answered to the name of Ivan. Starinkyèvitch was another
favourite of our little society, invariably good-tempered and full of
fun. His jokes, _bon-mots_, and nonsense would often send us all into
fits of laughter, when his own hearty ringing laugh was sure to dominate
all the others. He too was talented, but not steady and persevering like
Yatzèvitch. He was one of those fortunate beings who are able to get the
gist of a passage with one rapid glance; but he squandered his gifts,
attempting everything, and doing nothing thoroughly. He was almost
girlishly tender, clinging, and confiding by nature; but could on
occasion become passionate and violent. Moscow was his birthplace, and
he was sent straight from the University in 1881, when a mere boyish
student, to twenty years’ imprisonment, simply because he refused to say
from whom he had received a manifesto that was found in his possession.
He was an enthusiastic member of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_.

They say that two friends are generally of opposite temperaments, and
the two Vanitchki certainly bore out that theory. While Starinkyèvitch
was gay and lighthearted, Martinòvsky was grave, sedate, almost morose.
He seldom smiled, and I can never remember hearing him laugh. He was a
man of iron will, commanding and even despotic in character. I cannot
imagine his ever being brought to yield a hair’s-breadth on any subject;
on the contrary, he seemed always to contrive to bring others round to
the fulfilment of his wishes. He was without doubt an extremely gifted
and capable man, who might have made his mark as a leader in public
affairs if he had had the chance. He was above all things practical; yet
could immerse himself on occasion in theoretical problems, and was one
of the first in the prison to take up the study of Marxism. He too came
from Moscow, and like his friend Starinkyèvitch, had been condemned to
twenty years’ imprisonment. Martinòvsky had been sentenced, in the same
case as Sundelèvitch, Kviatkòvsky, and others, to fourteen years’
“katorga,” and an attempted escape brought him an addition of another
six years. His having been chosen _stàrosta_ (head-man) by his comrades
proves the complete trust they placed in him, and he was in every way a
model representative of our interests.

The following story concerns another of my fellow-prisoners at Kara. On
the 25th December, 1879, General Drenteln was driving in his carriage
through the streets of Petersburg. He had just been appointed chief of
gendarmerie, in succession to General Mezentzev, (killed by the
revolutionists; see pp. 92 and 263,) and was also the head of the
notorious “third section.”[81] Suddenly a man riding a beautiful
thorough-bred stopped the carriage and fired several shots at the
General through the window, none of the bullets hitting their mark. The
rider made off, the General cried to the coachman to follow him, and a
wild chase began. The people in the streets understood nothing about
what had occurred, and saw with amazement this strange race between the
General’s carriage and a magnificently mounted horseman. More than once
the latter seemed on the point of being brought to bay, but always
escaped down some side street, closely followed by the General’s fast
trotters. At last the rider made a dash, left his pursuers behind, and
was in hot flight, when his horse stumbled and fell. The fugitive did
not lose his presence of mind, however; beckoning to a policeman, he
said: “My good man, this horse is hurt; just look after it for me while
I go and fetch the groom.” The policeman obediently took the bridle, and
the horseman vanished round the corner, cut through a passage, called a
droschky, and was seen no more. General Drenteln foamed with rage when
he found the horse in such safe keeping, but the rider gone. The police
were set to work, and easily discovered the steed to be a racehorse
named “Lady,” which had been hired from a riding-school by a student
named Mirsky,[82] already under police observation. Mirsky was by this
time no longer to be found in Petersburg; he had escaped to South
Russia. Several months later, however, he met his fate at Taganrock,
while under the roof of a friend and comrade named Tarhov, a lieutenant
in the artillery. Another officer, having suspicions about Tarhov’s
guest, put the police on the scent, and the house was surrounded.
Mirsky, unwilling to surrender without a struggle, fired several
revolver-shots at the police, and tried to break through their cordon.
He was overpowered, however; was made prisoner, and in 1880 was brought
before a court-martial, together with Tarhov, the poet A. Olchin, and
some others. That was a time when even people not actually implicated in
terrorist attempts were condemned to death off-hand by the
courts-martial, and no one doubted that Mirsky—whose assault upon the
chief of gendarmerie was undisputed—would be executed. Only he himself
seemed to think otherwise. I remember how, shortly before the trial,
somebody who had visited him in prison came to us and said that Mirsky
wanted us to send him black clothes and a white tie, to wear when he
went before the court. We were all very much surprised, and laughed
rather mournfully over his odd whim. It was the first time it had
occurred to any revolutionist to trouble himself about what sort of coat
he should put on to face his judges. But of course we provided him with
the means of shining for the last time in public; the papers remarked
that “the chief defendant presented a very gentlemanly appearance,” and
his speech of defence was reported with approval in various foreign
journals. He was condemned to death; and although this sentence was
commuted to one of penal servitude for life, he very narrowly escaped
suffering the full rigour of the law. Had the attempt—planned for that
very day—to kill Alexander II. at the station in Alexandrovskaia been
successful, or had the trial taken place two days later, after the 19th
November, when the Tsar’s train was blown up at Moscow,—all would have
been over for Mirsky. As it was, however, he escaped with his life, and
was confined in the famous Alexei-Ravelin tower of the Fortress of Peter
and Paul, where at that time the most important “politicals” were
imprisoned. Four years later he was brought to Kara, and he was one of
my companions in the “nobles’ room.”

Footnote 81:

  The secret police, which was then under the chief of gendarmerie,
  though it has since been constituted a separate department,
  controlling vast sums of money.

Footnote 82:

  See portrait, p. 112.

Instead of a slender, aristocratic youth, as Mirsky was described at the
time of his trial, I knew him as a robust, somewhat undersized but
well-built man, of about twenty-seven. And he had changed in more than
outward appearance; he was no longer the hot-headed boy, ready for any
rash deed, but a serious man who had been through much and had thought
deeply. Keen-witted and well educated, he had formed his own conclusions
as to social conditions in Russia and their development in the future.
The teaching of Marx was unknown to him, but he had attained a similar
standpoint by following out his own reasoning. He was particularly
sceptical concerning the views then prevalent among Russian
revolutionists, according to which a purely Russian programme should be
based on the organisation of the _artèls_ (workmen’s unions), and on the
already existing system of the joint ownership of land by the village
communes; a programme which must differ essentially from that of
Socialists in all other civilised countries. He did not believe that
anything further could be built on these remnants of patriarchal
institutions. He was of opinion that the complete overthrow of the
existing political régime was the first thing to be aimed at in Russia,
but he was convinced that terrorist tactics would never entirely bring
this about; and he expected equally little from any uprising of the
working classes, since the mass of the people were sunk in apathetic
resignation and hopelessness. Yet still the question tortured him—how
should this task be approached?—and he was of all the prisoners in Kara
the best prepared for the philosophical arguments of a Marxist.

Mirsky had been a medical student; but during his imprisonment he took
up the study of jurisprudence, and was credited with such a thorough
knowledge of legal affairs that his judgments were more trusted than
those of some graduate lawyers who were among us. Mirsky was of Polish
extraction; but having been brought up in Russia he was in every respect
a thoroughly Russian Socialist.



                             CHAPTER XXIII
       THE ORGANISATION OF OUR COMMON LIFE—THE “SIRIUSES”—WAGERS


On my arrival at the Kara prison I found in existence there an extremely
elaborate organisation regulating the prisoners’ daily life, a system
that the course of time had evolved and tested. The fundamental
principle of the arrangement was equality of rights and duties; the
inmates of the prison forming for all domestic purposes a commune or
_artèl_, although the needs and wishes of individuals were taken into
account as far as possible. It was free to anyone to enter this _artèl_
or to remain outside, and whichever they did, material conditions—in the
way of food, etc.—were the same for all.[83] The Government provided a
certain quantity of food per day for each prisoner—about 3¼ lbs. of
bread, nearly 6 oz. of meat, a few ounces of meal, and some salt.
Friends of prisoners were permitted to furnish them with the means of
obtaining extra provisions, and some of us, though, indeed, only a few,
received such contributions regularly, this money as well as the
governmental allowances becoming the common property of the _artèl_. The
money was distributed as follows: part was set aside to supplement the
food-rations, especially for buying more meat (this was called in our
lingo “provisioning the stock-pot”); another portion was reserved for
what was called common expenses—assistance to those who were leaving the
prison and going to their appointed place of exile, subscriptions to
such newspapers as we were allowed, postage, etc.; and a third part was
divided equally among all for pocket-money. This last was spent
according to the fancy of each individual, usually on tea, tobacco,
fish, butter, and such things as were considered “secondary
necessaries,” though sometimes these were sacrificed and the money saved
up for months, or even for a year or more, in order to buy a book or
some special luxury. Our funds were very scanty; during my whole time in
Kara there was never more than three or four kopecks[84] per man per day
for the “stock-pot,” and the pocket-money for each never amounted to
more than a rouble[85] a month, often much less. In consequence of the
primitive means of transport everything imported into Siberia cost three
times as much as in Europe—a pound of sugar, for instance, cost
thirty-five to forty kopecks—and the prisoners had to deny themselves
many of the smallest comforts of material existence. Most of us used
only brick-tea, _i.e._ tea of the commonest kind, and drank it without
sugar; others thought even that a luxury, and drank hot water; while
those who used sugar had to make one lump do for the whole day—that is,
for three meals.

Footnote 83:

  Those who did not join the _artèl_ had, of course, no votes in any
  discussions or decisions of that body.

Footnote 84:

  A kopeck is about equal to one farthing.—_Trans._

Footnote 85:

  A rouble is about equal to 2_s._ 1_d._—_Trans._

Actual money was never given us, everything was on paper only. All
remittances were received by the commandant, who kept us informed of the
amount he had in hand. Then we would order various articles, which would
be given to our _stàrosta_ to keep in the common chest, and whenever he
gave anything out he made an entry in his account-book. At the end of
each month the accounts were made up, each man being told whether he had
overdrawn his pocket-money and so must start the next month with a
_minus_ of so many kopecks, or whether he had saved and was credited
with a _plus_. The former would try to make good their deficit during
the following month; but there were some who—with the best will in the
world—could never make their expenditure and income balance, and were
always in default, thus acquiring the nickname of “minuses,” while the
thrifty were called “pluses.” No shame was attached to the being a
“minus,” though it was scarcely a title of honour, and no one cared for
the position. The “minuses” always aspired to get straight at any rate
at Christmas or Easter, when pocket-money was generally increased by an
influx of gifts, but it sometimes occurred that someone found it
impossible to get his head above water, and it was then the custom that
at one of our festivals—at Christmas, or on the commemoration of some
revolutionary red-letter day—the _stàrosta_ or someone should suggest
the “whitewashing” of the bankrupt by wiping off his debt to the
_artèl_. This proposal was always accepted by the majority, only the
“minus” himself protesting, or refusing to consent.

Every morning the _stàrosta_ presented himself with his order-book at
the doors of the different rooms, and asked what was wanted. One would
order a “sou’s” worth[86] of sugar, another a “brick” of tea, and so on.
These orders were entered, to be later transferred to the account-book,
and soon afterwards the _stàrosta_ would bring the articles and give
them to us through the peephole. The _stàrosta_ also received from the
steward for distribution all things that were due to us in the way of
clothing, linen, and so forth, and he was our representative in all our
dealings with the commandant. The election of the _stàrosta_ was by
ballot, and for a term of six months. The person elected was, of course,
free to decline the post, and this occasionally happened, as, though an
honourable office, it was one which entailed trouble and responsibility,
and sometimes even a degree of unpleasantness.

Footnote 86:

  This simply meant a kopeck’s worth; the expression had originated in
  the wish to disguise from the gendarme who was always on guard in the
  corridor the extremely small amount of such an order, but naturally in
  the course of time the gendarmes had come to understand our _argot_
  thoroughly, so that there was no longer any real deception.

Not only the _stàrosta_, but any member of the _artèl_ might make
proposals for changes in our arrangements, such proposals being written
down, considered by the inmates of the different rooms, and then voted
for or against in writing. It was the _stàrosta’s_ business to collect
the votes and to announce the results through the peepholes. Proposals
of this kind were often most excitedly discussed, parties being formed
to support or oppose them; and occasionally a subject would develop into
a “cabinet crisis,” though the moving or rejecting of votes of
confidence in the “government” (for we had a whole ministry, other
officers being necessary besides the _stàrosta_) was not customary.

All work within the prison precincts we shared among us; but such
services as made it necessary to go outside the yard (carrying wood and
water, sanitary cleansing, etc.) were performed by ordinary criminals,
whom we tipped, although not in any way obliged to do so. Our own duties
were of two kinds: work for the community—such as cooking, cleaning the
rooms, attending to the steam baths; and private work—washing clothes,
mending, etc. Everyone except the weak or ill had to take his share in
the former. The cooking was undertaken by groups of five men, each group
serving for a week at a time. There were eight or nine such groups in
all, the choice of belonging to any particular group being left free
without regard to rooms. Each group had its head cook, his assistant, a
cook for the invalids, and two helpers. The work was not light, and was
in no way attractive; it began between six and seven in the morning, and
was not usually over before five in the evening, by which hour one would
be thoroughly tired out; and when the end of the week came it was
delightful to think of idling for a time. On the other hand, the labour
was a welcome relief to the monotony of our lives, and the kitchen was a
meeting-place for the inhabitants of different rooms, forming a sort of
clubhouse for those engaged in the cooking. Even when the work was
hardest we had merry times there, discussing news, gossiping, and
joking, the work itself often serving as a basis for fun and all sorts
of nonsense. The head cook would give a raw hand some ridiculous job;
one, for instance, would be set to pick potatoes out of the pot with a
fork; another ordered to stand by a hole in the wall with a big stick
and to knock on the head any blackbeetles that might make their
appearance. I myself was given the task of chopping up millet-seed with
a large knife, and other such absurdities would be invented.

Our cooks had to manage with very scanty materials. Vegetables
frequently ran short, thus making it most difficult to vary the bill of
fare. At the time of my arrival there were no potatoes to be had, and at
midday, from motives of economy, only broth was provided, from which the
meat had been taken to be served up separately for supper. When I sat
down to dinner on my first day in Kara I was prepared for a frugal meal,
having heard beforehand how poor the dietary was in this prison; but
when I had spooned up the meagre soup without any accompaniment but
bread and realised that this was my whole dinner, I felt somewhat
downcast. I rose from table as hungry as I had sat down; and it was a
long while before I could accustom myself to this sort of nourishment.
Our culinary skill was chiefly displayed in the way of serving up the
soup-meat at a subsequent meal. It was generally minced and heated up
with some vegetables. The dish most favoured by the majority was meat
cut into small pieces and mixed with groats; this was called
“Everyone-likes-it,” and it was the pride of the cooks to decorate our
_menu_ with this original name at least twice a week. The greedy ones
among us used to spy around the kitchen, and never failed to spread the
joyful tidings: “They’re making ‘Everyone-likes-it’ to-day!” The cooks
generally put their best foot forward on Saturday, when their week of
office expired. For years it had been the custom to have an extra dish
on that day, a _piròg_ or sort of pie made of flour, rice, and mince.
The cooks used to save up scraps of meat for it all through the week,
and sometimes the _piròg_ would attain such dimensions that we could not
dispose of it at one sitting, and a remainder would be left over for
Sunday’s breakfast. On the whole our food was insufficient, not very
nutritious, and still less appetising. Bread only had we at discretion,
as the rations given out by the steward were so large that some was
always left over. Only those who had no stomach for a quantity of dry
bread need go hungry. But we hardly ever had our fill except on great
feast days, when not only was our pocket-money augmented, but an extra
allowance of food was given. The cooks would then indulge us with
various dainties and luxuries; roast meat would come to table, or
cutlets, and white bread. Praise must not be denied to our cooks; there
were among them _virtuosi_, whose handiwork was quite artistic—worthy,
as we expressed it, “of better houses.”

Invalid diet was not provided specially; the cooks had to arrange for
that as best they could, and make it as varied as was compatible with
economy. During my time there was no severe illness, and special diet
was only needed for those who were delicate or who suffered from some
chronic ailment. The question who was to be given invalid fare was
decided by Prybylyev[87]—one of our number who acted as our medical
adviser, and who showed much skill in that capacity, though at home he
had only been a veterinary surgeon. His fame in the art of healing
became widespread, and afterwards when he was living out of prison he
was consulted by many people, though there were three qualified
physicians in the neighbourhood.

Footnote 87:

  See portrait, p. 209.

The helpers in the kitchen generally either knew nothing whatever of the
culinary art or else preferred rough work. I fulfilled both conditions,
and never made anything of actual cooking; my duties consisted in
carrying water, chopping wood, taking water and charcoal for the samovar
to the different rooms, apportioning the food in the wooden bowls out of
which we ate, washing up, attending to the stoves, and cleaning the
kitchen. Everybody working in the kitchen got rather larger portions of
food than the others: that was an ancient custom.

Besides the head-man, who had charge of our larder, a special
“bread-dispenser” was appointed, whose office it was to cut up the
loaves and divide them among the different rooms; he had also to collect
all scraps and crumbs that were left, and send them on to our comrades
in the penal settlement,[88] where they were used to feed a horse and a
couple of cows which belonged to the _artèl_.

Footnote 88:

  This penal settlement was at a short distance from the prison, in the
  village of Kara, and here—as will be explained more fully later—the
  convicts, both ordinary and political, were allowed to reside under
  strict rules and surveillance after their term of actual imprisonment
  was over.—_Trans._

The “poultry-keeper” was another of our officials. We kept in the yard a
number of fowls which we cherished most carefully, and they were a great
amusement to us, especially when a brood of chickens appeared or when
the young cockerels showed fight.

Two other comrades were “bath-keepers”; had to see to the cleaning of
the steam-bath, etc., and—like all our “officials”—were excused from
kitchen work.

Finally, there was the very important post of librarian, which ranked
next to that of _stàrosta_, and, like it, was decided by ballot, while
the other dignitaries generally chose their own offices. In the course
of years our library had attained quite imposing dimensions; it was
composed partly of books brought by the inmates, partly of those sent to
us as gifts. Nearly all branches of knowledge were represented in it,
but particularly history, mathematics, and natural science; there were
also books in almost every European language, including the classics.
Two enormous cupboards in the corridor contained this treasure, but the
greater part of it was usually in the hands of eager readers. The
custodian had to look after the binding and mending of the books, in
which he found many willing helpers. The tools and materials used were
of the most primitive description; we had no pasteboard, for instance,
and had to contrive some by pasting paper together. My travelling
companion, Tchuikov, proved a first-rate librarian, not only invariably
remembering what books each person had borrowed, but being always able
to tell the whereabouts of any particular article or treatise in our
files of newspapers. He was to the last always re-elected librarian.

Housework in the rooms was likewise done by strict rule; according to
our turns we had to be on duty twice a day, seeing to the stoves,
carrying the unsavoury wooden tubs in and out at night and in the
morning, and so on. Our rooms were kept scrupulously clean and neat, and
every fortnight there was a tremendous thorough cleaning; the boards
were scrubbed with hot water, beds aired, tables and benches washed in
the yard. We were very particular about proper ventilation, and observed
all hygienic precautions most carefully; each man used the steam-bath
once a week, and each washed his own clothes—not one of our easiest
jobs.

Remembering that most of us were students fresh from the universities,
or at any rate had hitherto had little practical acquaintance with
domestic labour, and taking into account external circumstances
generally and the scanty supply of materials, I think we might fairly
pride ourselves on the practical and efficient organisation of our
household affairs. Of course our system was liable to modification in
details if necessary, but the principles on which it was based were
fixed and unchangeable.

That our life must have had much in it irksome in the extreme and hard
to bear is only too evident; living in such constant and close intimacy
for years with the same set of people must necessarily lead to all kinds
of petty rubs and differences; all the more because the forced
inactivity was such a strain to the nerves of many. These were evils not
in our power entirely to avert.

In the middle of each room hung a lamp with a dark shade—lamps that we
had ourselves provided. Our table was narrow and long, so that a number
of persons necessarily sat where the light was very poor, insufficient
for work of any kind; and this, of course, was a misfortune for
everyone, as those condemned to idleness disturbed the more
advantageously placed who wanted to study. Even had there not been this
drawback, serious concentration of mind would have been difficult in a
small room wherein were congregated sixteen men of very different
temperaments and inclinations. The needful quiet could rarely be
obtained, for it would have been impossible to enforce silence during
the long winter evenings; on the contrary, when one sat down to work at
night tongues were loosened, and there began a constant hubbub of
chatter and laughter. Anyone who was really bent on earnest study had to
devise a special plan: he became what we called a “Sirius.” This meant
that as soon as it became dusk he went to bed till midnight, and then,
while the rest were asleep, got up and worked till dawn, when Sirius
rises above the horizon; after which he lay down for another two hours’
rest. It needed an overwhelming desire for learning and considerable
powers of endurance to become a “Sirius”; it was difficult to rest when
the comrades were chattering and making a noise all around one, and when
one had at last managed to get off to sleep, it seemed immediately time
to wake up again. The dividing of the night’s rest is not an easy thing
to stand; in spite of my efforts I could never accustom myself to it;
yet there were some among us—though not many—who were numbered among the
“Siriuses” all the time I was at Kara. Yatzèvitch, and two others of
whom I shall have more to say, Kalyushny and Adrian Mihailov, kept to
this mode of life during that whole period.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I must mention one custom that had taken root in the prison, into which
I was very soon initiated. We were in the middle of a lively
conversation one morning, just after my arrival, when M., one of the
comrades, turned to me with the question—

“What do you say, Deutsch; will the Tsar soon be made an end of?”

“Oh no,” I replied, “I don’t think he’ll be killed. The man will
probably end his days peacefully in his bed.”

My answer met with violent opposition, everyone assuring me that
Alexander III. must meet his father’s fate. At that time nearly all
revolutionists had still a firm belief in the indestructible power of
the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, and saw in terrorism the only practicable means
of fighting Russian absolutism. To me, on the contrary, things showed
themselves in quite a different light. I had taken part in the
revolutionary organisation when the terrorist idea was in its infancy,
had witnessed its development until finally it reigned alone and
absorbed all the fighting energy of the party, had known personally
Terrorists both great and small, and I had now come to the conclusion
that the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_ had outlived its time. The tide of feeling
that had fostered the growth of this party had reached its height in
1881; while after, and in consequence of, the assassination of Alexander
II. it had ebbed rapidly away. As I have explained before, all the
leading Terrorists were then removed from the sphere of action, and the
younger ones who tried to replace them had no chance of proving and
tempering their own powers. Both in Russia and abroad I had seen how the
earlier enthusiasm had given way to a fatal scepticism; men had lost
faith, even though many would not have allowed that it was so. It was
clear to me that a reaction had set in, to last for many years.

When I now gave expression to these views, M. asked suddenly—

“Will you back that opinion?”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Well, we simply mean by that, will you take a bet on it? I declare that
the Tsar will be killed; you maintain the contrary. I offer you a wager
that the Tsar will be killed by the revolutionists within a certain
time.”

“Very well, I accept.”

“Shall we say five years—till December 15th, 1890?”

“All right; what is the stake?”

This was not so easy to settle. Bets of this sort, I then learned, were
quite the fashion, and were made on every kind of occasion—sometimes as
the result of a serious argument, sometimes about a mere trifle; but
there was rarely a controversy that did not terminate with the question,
“Will you back that opinion?” If the other party tried to make excuses,
there would be a chorus from the bystanders of “He shirks it!” and the
reputation of a “shirker” was not a flattering one. The stake was
usually some small matter, perhaps a little tea or tobacco, varying
according to the importance of the subject in dispute. A “sou’s worth”
of sugar was a common offer; but if the loser undertook to brew tea for
the whole room that was considered a high stake, and the result was
awaited with interest. Although these bets were more or less of a joke,
they had also a more serious side. There are people who will dispute
about every imaginable thing, and make the wildest assertions simply for
the sake of arguing; and it must be confessed that after such heedless
talkers had lost a few wagers they were more inclined to hold their
tongues occasionally, though neither the chance of losses nor of earning
the nickname of “shirker” could quite restrain some of our number from
arguing in the air.

My wager with M. was duly recorded, and it was agreed that the loser
should provide cakes for all the inhabitants of the “nobles’ room.” This
was a very high stake, costing several roubles, and the loser risked
being without pocket-money for “secondary necessaries” during several
months; but the question being one that might not be decided for a long
while, the stake had to be considerable to sustain interest. Time proved
me right. At the end of 1890 M. had lost his bet, and wished to pay his
debt of honour; but I refused to allow him to do so, on the ground that
circumstances had changed, and the former inmates of the “nobles’ room”
would no longer be able to partake of the feast, many having by that
time left the prison. M. would not hear of it at first, but ended by
giving in.

[Illustration:

  PRISONERS GOLD-WASHING AT KARA
    To face page 232
]



                              CHAPTER XXIV
  SOME DETAILS OF THE PRISON’S HISTORY—THE “TOM-CAT”—THE “SANHEDRIN’S
                     ROOM”—MY FIRST SIBERIAN SPRING


In conversation with those who had been imprisoned at Kara for some time
one often heard the expressions: “That was before the May days,” or,
“That happened after the 11th of May.” This mode of reckoning time had
become current among us; everybody knew the story of the “May days,”
which had been an epoch in the prison life of Kara, just as the
“February days” had been a turning-point in French history. All that lay
behind the “May days” was a sort of golden age, and after them came a
time of storm and stress, years of gloom and misery. I will briefly
narrate the story of these events.

The Kara prison for political offenders dates from the year 1880. Before
that time “politicals” were not confined in a special gaol, but in one
among a great number of such prisons in this penal district, where along
the River Kara are many gold-washing settlements, the private property
of the Tsar—or “property of His Majesty’s Cabinet,” as it is officially
termed. The “politicals,” like the ordinary prisoners, had to wash gold
for the Lord of All the Russias; but the work was not hard, and they
rather enjoyed it. It was at any rate pleasanter and more wholesome to
work for a few hours in the fresh air than to vegetate in prison. At
that time the “politicals” enjoyed the same privileges as the ordinary
convicts; _e.g._ they had better rations than were subsequently given
them, they might correspond with their relations, and at the expiration
of their appointed sentences they were allowed to settle in the “free
colony” outside the prison. The “politicals” were not dissatisfied with
this state of things; but in December, 1880, the then Minister of the
Interior, Count Loris Melikov, ordered that they should no longer be
allowed in the penal colony. Shortly after this was made known one of
the prisoners, a graduate of the Petersburg University, named
Semyanovsky, took his own life, leaving a letter to his father, in which
he declared that the idea of being permanently shut up in prison had
driven him to commit suicide.

This cruel decree came at a time when the political movement was
particularly strong, and we were believed to be on the eve of a great
upheaval; news of revolutionary doings, though much delayed, reached the
ears of the prisoners in distant Kara, and naturally made the yearning
for liberty more fervent than ever. Some of those who still had a long
term of punishment to suffer resolved on flight; but not till May, 1882,
was it found possible to execute their plans, and the work at the mines
to which they were daily led furnished them with the opportunity. It was
arranged that two men were to escape each night; and by common consent
the first to go was Myshkin,[89] a well-known revolutionist, who chose
as his companion one of the most able of his comrades, a working-man
named Nicholas Hrùstchov.[90] These two got away successfully, and to
conceal their disappearance their comrades made dummies which they laid
in their places on the bed-shelves when the roll was called.
Galkin-Vrassky, the head of the Prisons Department, was just at that
time visiting the prisons of Kara, accompanied by the Governor,
Iliashèvitch; but nothing was discovered, though the fugitives were
already well on their eastern journey, nearing the shore of the Pacific.
After a few days a second couple escaped in the same manner, and as
successfully, and then a third pair. But as the last man of a fourth
pair was making off, the sentry fired and alarmed the watch; the shot
missed, but the absence of eight prisoners was discovered. That was on
May 11th, 1882; Galkin-Vrassky and Iliashèvitch were still in Kara, and
the presence of their chiefs fired the local authorities to special
exertions in following up the fugitives; six were soon captured,[91]
only the first two remaining at large.

Footnote 89:

  Sentenced in 1873 to ten years’ penal servitude, in the “Case of the
  193,” for armed resistance in an attempted rescue of Tchernishevsky
  from Viluisk in Yakutsk. Myshkin also received a further fifteen
  years, because at the burial of a comrade, Dmohovsky, he delivered a
  funeral oration in the prison chapel.

Footnote 90:

  Sentenced in the Popov trial in Kiëv to fifteen years’ penal
  servitude.

Footnote 91:

  Moses Dihovsky, fifteen years’ penal servitude; Levtchenko, fifteen;
  Andreas Balamutz, twenty; Kratzenovsky, Yurhovsky, and Minyukov, all
  for life.

Reprisals were at once taken against the other political prisoners; some
were conveyed in small parties to different prisons, and treated with
terrible severity on the way; the Kara prison was rebuilt, the large
common rooms being each converted into three cells so small that one
could scarcely turn round in them; while within a special enclosure a
building was erected with narrow cells for solitary confinement, wherein
some of the revolutionists were incarcerated. All books and other
possessions were taken from the “politicals”; they were allowed no food
except that provided by the State; and were subjected to so many
hardships and privations that they unanimously resolved to put an end to
their lives by refusing to eat; and only when they were at death’s door
were some concessions made by the authorities.

Myshkin and Hrùstchov were for some time lucky in evading detection.
They got as far as Vladivostock, and were in the act of seeking safety
on board a foreign vessel when they were recognised as the long-sought
fugitives, and captured. All sacrifices had been vain, and the prisoners
of the mighty Tsar were once more secured in the Kara prison, which had
meanwhile undergone further changes. The “politicals” were separated
from the ordinary convicts, and the male and female divisions of the
political prison placed under the control of the gendarmerie. Koros, a
staff officer of gendarmes, was sent from Petersburg and installed as
commandant; and a number of inferior officers of gendarmerie were made
warders. The whole system was at the same time completely altered; the
workshops were removed, and the prisoners forced to remain idle; they
were not allowed to leave the precincts of the gaol, and correspondence
with their friends was forbidden. Moreover, as has been said elsewhere,
thirteen of their number were despatched to the Fortress of Peter and
Paul and thence to Schlüsselburg, where now (1902) only one of them
survives.

During the four years that had elapsed since the “May days” there had
been four changes of commandant. One of these gentlemen had been
superseded and sent to Yakutsk for appropriating to his own private uses
one thousand roubles of money sent to the prisoners. Each change of
commandant meant some modification of arrangements, and thus by degrees
various small improvements were made, among others the breaking down of
the partition walls in the rooms; while, in consequence of an appeal
made by a prisoner’s influential relations, the Loris Melikov order was
finally annulled, and “politicals” were once more allowed to reside in
the penal colony when their proportion of years in prison was past. The
legal regulations concerning the latter privilege were as follows: in
the fulfilment of all hard-labour (or “katorga”) sentences the first one
or two years—according to the length of the sentence—are called
“probation time”; the remaining years are called “time of alleviation,”
and in them every ten months count as a year. In this way, for example,
my thirteen years and four months became eleven years and five months;
and being sentenced on October 12th, 1884, I should finish my term in
February, 1896. The entire “probation time” and two or three years of
the “time of alleviation” must be spent in prison; but after that the
law provided that the prisoner should be allowed to reside in the
“colony,” under police supervision, instead of within the prison walls.
Such partially freed prisoners might take up their abode in some house
assigned to them, or built by themselves; but they were subject to the
rules and regulations laid down for the convicts residing there,
ordinary and political alike. It was a great matter to be no longer
cooped up day and night in a common room of the prison; the
“politicals”—people of culture and refinement—appreciated this
particularly, and the withdrawal of the privilege had been a terrible
deprivation. The greater, therefore, was the rejoicing when, two years
after the “May days,” the new commandant, Captain Burlei, who had
succeeded the thief Manayev, informed the captives in the political
prison of Kara that some time previously a resolution of the senate had
rescinded the adverse decree. The dishonest Manayev had suppressed the
document proclaiming this, that he might the more easily continue to
conceal his malpractices. Captain Burlei immediately proposed to the
governor of the district that steps should be taken forthwith for the
release from prison and internment in the “colony” of all those who had
become entitled to that right. Before this could be arranged, however,
the humane commandant was replaced by Nikolin, who would only allow the
new rules to come into force under certain restrictions. The senate had
made their decision; the law was there, and must be complied with; but
by “administrative methods” he continued to limit its operations.

Captain Nikolin was a malicious, small-minded man, always on the
look-out for ways of annoying the prisoners; and now, on the pretence
that he had not a strong enough force of gendarmes to supervise the
“colony,” he asked that instead of releasing all who were entitled to
the privilege, only fifteen persons at a time should be set free. His
excuse was groundless, for under the circumstances the same force of
gendarmes could have equally well controlled the greater or smaller
number of “colonists”; but of course the wish of the commandant was
acceded to, and it thus came about that those who should have obtained
the right of living outside the prison had often to wait years until
there was a vacancy, and even then there might be a dozen candidates for
it, from among whom Nikolin arbitrarily selected a recipient of the
favour. Of course this curtailment of their rights earned Nikolin the
ardent dislike of the prisoners; and his conduct was such as continually
to aggravate that sentiment anew.

I had an opportunity of seeing this man soon after being placed under
his charge. He often came into the prison—into the corridor, that is,
for he never entered the rooms. He might have been nearly fifty-five,
rather big, with an imposing “corporation”; his broad round face,
cunning little eyes, and bristling moustache, gave him the look of a
fat, spiteful old tom-cat, and he was always designated by that
nickname. The expression of his eyes was particularly catlike; he looked
as if just ready to pounce on a victim and stick his claws into it. He
always spoke in a low voice, this “tom-cat”; but he chattered
unceasingly, and kept smacking his lips all the time, his expression
being always peevish and discontented. When he visited the prison he
generally remained for some time standing by our _stàrosta_, who would
be busy beside his big chest; and Nikolin would talk away, quite
regardless whether his conversation were agreeable to the listener or
not. During these endless monologues he would brag and boast in the most
inflated way. Could we have accepted his own account of his exploits, he
would by this time have been at least a general. He had begun his career
during the sixties under Mouravièv, the oppressor of Vilna, and he would
recount the inestimable services he had rendered at that epoch. Yet he
was still only a captain! Possibly an excess of zeal had spoiled his
prospects; at any rate, he used to relate the following story of what
had happened to him in Kara. He had once addressed a communication to
the governor of the province, asking this highly important question:
“When the floor of a room was being scrubbed, and the prisoners were
consequently turned out into the corridor, should the warder take them
into another room or not?”

“Imagine!” the “tom-cat” would cry. “The answer I received was this:
‘Arrange the matter for yourself according to Paragraph 13 of the
instructions.’” Now the instructions only contained twelve paragraphs,
but the irony of the rejoinder never struck Nikolin, and he continued to
fuss on every occasion over any sort of trifle. He seemed, too, to think
that his position as commandant of the political prisoners did not give
him enough scope for grumbling, but poked his nose into everything that
went on in the district of Kara. Once, indeed, he did actually succeed
in discovering a series of thefts from the coffers of the State. There
was a certain Major Pohùlov, governor of the ordinary convicts’ prison
(with whom Mr. Kennan stayed during his visit to Kara). One fine day a
storehouse under his charge, supposed to contain some thousands of poods
of grain for the prisoners’ use, was burnt down. Now grain stored in
great heaps does not burn away, but simply gets roasted; yet on this
occasion there was no trace of it to be found, the gallant major having
had a little deal with the purveyor, and then, with the help of his
subordinates, having arranged that the warehouse should be burnt down in
the nick of time.

Probably this transaction would have remained in the dark, like many
others of the kind, had not our “tom-cat” taken the matter up and by his
denunciations forced the Government to appoint a commission of inquiry
on which he himself served.

He then revealed the full range of his talents, and brought to the light
of day a whole system of robbery and fraud. The “hospitable gentleman,”
as Kennan described Major Pohùlov (and indeed so he was), had had more
than one device for enriching himself at the State’s expense. For
instance, hundreds of prisoners figured on his list who had long since
either been released or had escaped, and for these “ghosts” he had
regularly charged his books with clothing and food allowances, whilst he
and the purveyor had fraternally shared the money between them. This man
was dismissed from his office, but was never brought to justice, as he
had influential friends who shielded him.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Although my comrades in the “nobles’ room” were most sympathetic
companions to me, I had a great wish to be transferred to the room
inhabited by my friend Stefanòvitch, and permission for this had to be
asked of the “tom-cat.” He at first refused it, on the excuse that he
must get the governor’s sanction; but I heard in a roundabout way that
he pretended to fear lest if Stefanòvitch and I got together we might
manage to escape. This was arrant nonsense, as since the gendarmes had
had charge of the prison there had been no faintest possibility of
escaping from it; but the “tom-cat” had to find some pretext or other
for tormenting us. A few weeks later he finally gave his consent, and I
became my friend’s “chum” in the “Sanhedrin room.”

The whole aspect of life in this apartment differed materially from that
in the “nobles’ room.” A good many of the inmates were artisans, and
some of the others had a turn for manual work, in consequence of which
the room had quite the look of a workshop. The possession of tools was
forbidden, but they had them notwithstanding, though nothing of the kind
was ever to be seen when an inspection took place. These inspections,
though minute, were “superficial,” as the gendarmerie expressed it; that
is, we were never personally searched, so we simply put our tools in our
pockets when the inspection began.

Some of our workmen were past masters in their craft. Hrùstchov, a hero
of the “May days,” was one of these, and another proficient was the
locksmith Bubnovsky. With scraps of iron, old nails, and such-like he
made a tiny lathe that could go into his pocket. With this little lathe
he fashioned all the parts of a clock, and, though he had never been a
watchmaker, produced a most artistic timepiece, that later found place
in a Siberian museum. Almost all kinds of handiwork were carried on in
our workshop, many of them having been learned entirely from books.
Patience and endurance—lessons taught by prison life—had fruitful
results when applied to such ends; and the theoretical studies that were
undertaken, one comrade learning from another, also profited by those
qualities. Knowledge was eagerly sought after in this room, and the
_quondam_ students helped the working-men. Yatzèvitch and Zlatopòlsky
came there every day to give instruction in mathematics and natural
science; Fomitchov occupied the chair of Russian languages, and so on.
On this account our room was sometimes called “the Academy.”

Among the workmen a certain Karl Ivanein interested me much. By birth a
Finn, but thoroughly Russified, his passion was for the finer branches
of literature, and in these he was very well read. He was an
enthusiastic adherent of Tolstoi’s teaching, and any hostile criticism
of that sage stung his proselyte to eager defence. His was a highly
gifted but eccentric character: soon after I became acquainted with him
he was released from prison and sent to live in the penal settlement,
where in a very little while he committed suicide.

Fomin and Fomitchov were noted among the other students in our room for
their determined industry. Fomin I had known in Switzerland, where he
had lived for some time as a refugee. He had been an officer of
infantry; was arrested for making propaganda among the soldiers, and
imprisoned in Vilna, but escaped by the help of a comrade. He could not
long endure to remain abroad, and returned to Russia, where he managed
to conceal himself for a time, but was arrested in 1882 in Petersburg
and condemned to twenty years’ penal servitude. While in Kara he
occupied himself with the study of natural science, particularly
mineralogy.

Of Fomitchov I had heard much, as a very active revolutionist, but had
never met him before. The son of a poor sacristan, he had studied in
Odessa, where in 1877 he was arrested, and charged before a
court-martial with making propaganda among soldiers; but even under
martial law it was found impossible to convict him, and he was set free
amid the applause of the onlookers, who gave both him and his counsel a
perfect ovation. Soon afterwards, however, he was again imprisoned, and
was condemned together with Lisogùb, Tchubàrov, and others, his sentence
being penal servitude for life. In consequence of his attempted escape
while on the journey, which I have already mentioned,[92] he was chained
to the wheelbarrow[93] for a year. He busied himself with historical
studies, more especially in Russian history, and had read a great deal
on that subject; but unfortunately our library was one-sided in this
branch, and only provided him with voluminous and rather out-of-date
works, such as those of Schlosser, Weber, Mommsen, Soloviev, and
Kostomarov. It may have been partly owing to the bias of these guides,
partly to some odd twist in his own mind, but anyhow our friend
Fomitchov—a clever and extremely painstaking student, an excellent
comrade, and a man of strong character generally—came to adopt most
extraordinary views for a political prisoner. He was not only an ardent
patriot and Russsophil; but also—which seemed especially
incomprehensible—an extreme monarchist, and a passionate upholder of the
Romanov dynasty! A political offender, a convict for life, yet a fanatic
for Russian absolutism: a strange combination, truly! If a man holding
such opinions had petitioned for pardon it would have seemed only
logical; not one of us would have seen anything dishonourable in his
taking such a step, but Fomitchov abstained from doing so. He persisted
in the curious view that it was his duty to abide his fate and wear out
his life in a Siberian prison, as expiation of his rebellion against the
Tsar, of whose wise policy for the government of his subjects Fomitchov
had now not the slightest doubt. It might have been confidently asserted
that among all the courtiers and dignitaries surrounding him, Alexander
III. had no more loyal and devoted adherent than this political convict
in Kara prison. The most unjust and cruel ukase of the Tsar’s Government
found in Fomitchov a defender who could always discover therein some
salutary principle intended to promote the welfare of the people. That
people he loved beyond everything, even to the sacrificing of his own
life, if need were; and therefore was he compelled to be for ever
attempting the theoretical reconciliation of governmental Tsarism with
the people’s good. Any attack on the Tsar incensed him to such a degree
that he would often break off all intercourse with anyone who made His
Majesty the object of hostile comment. Many of us seriously doubted if
the man could rightly be considered sane.

Footnote 92:

  See note, page 189.

Footnote 93:

  This punishment consists in fastening a wheelbarrow by chains to the
  prisoner so that he is obliged to push it about with him wherever he
  goes; and even when he wishes to sleep he must contrive to hoist it
  into such a position as will render lying down possible.—_Trans._

Naturally Fomitchov stood alone in this exaggeration of royalist
enthusiasm, but as a Russophil he found many sympathisers. A certain
number among us were firmly persuaded that Russian social and domestic
conditions were far superior to those of Western Europe, and disputes
about this supposed Russian perfection were endless; they were the
occasion of many a wager, and not infrequently caused serious
estrangements between friends, or—as our double-Dutch expressed
it—“climatic disturbances.” This strange belief in the superiority of
backward Russia was a ruling craze of the time in our country. The
entire progressive press was Russophil in that sense; and the tendency
had manifested itself even in Socialist literature, in the passionate
insistence that, Russian conditions being perfectly different from those
of any other country, the revolutionary struggle must proceed on
essentially distinct lines. I must confess that I was often pained to
hear men suffering for their convictions giving vent to opinions so
strongly resembling the arguments of hardened reactionaries.

One of the most strenuous advocates of these views in our room was a man
who—strange to say—bore the reputation of being among the ablest in the
prison. Nicholas Posen had been a village school-teacher who had taken
no specially active part in the revolutionary movement, but had chanced
to participate in armed resistance to the gendarmerie at Kiëv, and had
been brought to trial in consequence, together with Maria Kovalèvskaya
and others. He had been condemned to fourteen years and ten months’
“katorga,” subsequently increased by another fourteen years, for an
attempt to escape from prison in Irkutsk. He was well educated and
intelligent, but he had no political convictions worth mentioning. He
had a passion for argument, and would discuss anything and everything by
the hour, always ready to prove any given proposition, and seizing any
pretext for a debate—a philosophical problem, or any everyday trifle.
Serious study was not his forte, and his everlasting chatter disturbed
others at their work; hardly had his eyes opened in the morning before
his tongue was set in motion, and it never rested all day long.

A favourite theme with him was speculation about the day’s food: “What
do you think we shall have for supper to-night?” he would ask,
buttonholing somebody; “I am sure they are making ‘everyone-likes-it.’”
“Perhaps; but perhaps it is mince and groats,” his interlocutor might
say, just to please him by falling in with his humour. Then Posen’s
tongue would be loosened, and he would prove his important point beyond
question, giving all his reasons; he would dilate on it for half an
hour, and would wind up with, “Will you back your opinion?”

“All right, we’ll have something on it; what shall it be?”

“Three matches!” cries Posen; everyone laughs; and he himself seems
thoroughly pleased with his joke. He had at bottom a vain and petty
spirit, and showed later that he could come to any compromise with the
authorities in order to satisfy his own small desires.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Deficiency and poverty of nourishment soon affected my health, although
I had all my life hitherto been thoroughly robust. After a few months I
felt a weakness in the legs, and could no longer hold myself upright;
then black and blue patches made their appearance on the skin of my
legs, my gums began to suppurate, and my teeth became loose. I betook
myself to our medical adviser, Prybylyev.

“Hullo, my friend, you have got a beautiful attack of scurvy!” said he;
“you’ve been quick about it.” He ordered me invalid diet, and I was
given a daily cutlet with plenty of garlic. I was not the only one to
suffer in this way from the insufficient feeding; next spring a number
of us were victims to the same disease, and, strangely enough, it was
always the strongest and healthiest who succumbed. Improved diet and the
skill of our good Prybylyev soon tided me over the worst; after a while
I could walk once more without crutches, my gums healed, and soon I
could dispense with invalid food. For a long time, however, I felt the
after-effects of my illness.

I have a keen recollection of my first spring in Kara. I was overcome by
an indescribable yearning and longing that made the burden of the
aimless, senseless life within prison walls lie like a leaden weight on
my spirits, in face of the new life of nature springing up so freely all
around. Even reading, almost the sole occupation I could invent for
myself outside the daily work, was impossible. The letters danced before
my eyes; no sense of what I had read remained in my mind; memory failed
me; and my fancy alone worked untiringly. In any case mental exertion
under the conditions of prison life has but little result in proportion
to the time and energy expended; the physical state of the prisoner
reacts on his mind, dulling his faculties and weakening his resolution.
But in the spring-time, when every living thing revives and asserts
itself in action, it is hardly possible to resist distraction from
merely mental labour.

Our prison lay in the trough of a valley between ranges of hills, and
from the yard these hills could be seen by us. There was very scanty
vegetation on those Siberian heights; yet in spring they appeared to us
like a distant Paradise that beckoned irresistibly. Close by we had only
the well-trodden courtyard, where not even a blade of grass peeped
forth, the black weather-stained wooden walls of the prison buildings,
and the tall posts of the stockade; our eyes dwelt on the farther
prospect, and we pictured to ourselves the delight of treading on soft
turf under the shade of trees.

We petitioned our “tom-cat” for leave to plant a garden in the yard;
there was space enough, the work would have been beneficial, and then we
might have had vegetables for our table, the deficiency in which
particular had been so detrimental to our health. The “tom-cat” roundly
refused. “We should need spades,” he said, “and they might be used to
dig a hole whereby to get away.” So, again, when one of us was sent some
flower-seeds and sowed them in a wooden box, the box was taken away by
Nikolin’s orders: the earth in it might have served to conceal some
contraband article. Such needless tyrannies embittered us still more
against the detested commandant. However peaceably we might otherwise
have been inclined, our hatred of this man might well have blazed out at
any opportunity; he himself probably guessed as much, for he became more
and more mistrustful, at last never entering our prison. He felt that he
had made enemies all round him, and sat lonely in his own house, or
squabbled with his cook, afraid to show himself outside. It may be a
matter of surprise that one of his many enemies did not find a way to
put an end to him, that being a not unusual course of events in Kara;
but finally he could endure such a life no longer, and applied to be
transferred elsewhere. In the spring of 1887 his application was
granted, and he departed, accompanied by the anathemas of the entire
population of Kara.



                              CHAPTER XXV
      HUMOURS AND PASTIMES OF PRISON LIFE—TWO NEW COMMANDANTS—THE
            “HOSPITAL”—THE PARTICIPATORS IN ARMED RESISTANCE


Our life was one of dismal uniformity. Day after day, month after month,
went past and left no trace in remembrance. One day was exactly like
another, and all alike seemed endless. Whole years elapsed, and from
each three hundred and sixty-five days there could not be singled out
one on which any event had occurred worthy of recollection. In vain one
racks one’s brain trying to arouse a memory of that monotonous past.
When we arose in the morning we knew exactly what the day would bring;
indeed, one knew beforehand what the next day and the next week and
month would contain. One knew the manners, customs, inclinations of
every comrade in misfortune, could tell what each would be likely to say
or do on any given occasion, and sometimes one would long to run away
and hide, and never see their faces again. But there is no running away;
every minute of the year you are obliged to endure the company of those
others, and to burden them with your own; there is not a moment in which
you can be alone, not a corner in the common room to which you can
withdraw for real privacy.

To all this is added the rigour of the prison routine: the roll-call
morning and evening, the periodical inspections, the shaving of heads
that takes place with painful regularity, the constant presence of the
gendarmes. The strain at times becomes insupportable, and the nerves are
so shattered that the creaking of the great lock in the frequent opening
and shutting of the door affects one almost to madness. Many of us
became irritable to an extent incomprehensible to a normally sound
person, and with some of us (though not with many) this would at times
lead to loss of temper and quarrelling over the veriest nothings. It
thus once happened that two friends, both intelligent and well-educated
men of mature years, fell out with one another literally about an
egg-shell, which occasioned a dispute that led to a break between them.
This can only be conceivable if one realises that even people who love
each other tenderly might find it difficult to endure such close and
uninterrupted intercourse. What, then, must have been our situation,
locked up together, forced to inflict unwillingly on each other a
companionship which there was no alternative but to accept?

We had, however, our small joys and alleviations. The most welcome event
was the arrival of the post, which in winter came every ten days, in
summer every week. I can hardly depict the intense eagerness with which
many of us awaited the post days, counting the hours till the mail might
be expected to reach the prison. Some would stand for hours by the
stockade, watching to see the commandant start on his drive to the
post-office, which was some versts distant; then they would impatiently
await his return, not omitting to let their comrades know the result of
their observations. The post brought us letters, newspapers, books,
money, and occasionally a parcel—a present, a token of affection. All
this made indeed a break in the dull routine of daily existence, and not
one could remain an uninterested spectator. On the arrival of money
depended our common exchequer, and the amount of our private
pocket-money; newspapers and reviews brought the news for which we
thirsted passionately, especially the tidings of political events. They
were eagerly seized on, and their reading at once furnished subjects of
talk and discussion, although those years were times of thorough
reaction, not only in Russia, but in Western Europe, so that what we
read was nearly always disheartening, causing us to lay the paper down
depressed in spirits.

Moreover, only the most conservative, uninteresting papers were
permitted us, with the sole exception of the well-known review _Vèstnik
Evropuy_ (_The European Messenger_), which for some unknown reason was
allowed to pass. Some of our newspaper readers studied the whole
publication from beginning to end, and remembered every little detail.
Many of us, however, were chiefly interested in the arrival of home
letters, the source of so much joy and of so much sorrow. Constant
anxiety about our dear ones was caused by the long interval between the
despatch and the receipt of correspondence, which was often six weeks or
two months on the way, and when the roads were impassable, as is often
the case in Siberia for months together, the posts were even longer
delayed.

All letters received by us were first read by the commandant, and
subjected to a strict censure; they were also tested with a solution of
chlorate of iron, to see whether any entries had been made in them with
invisible chemical ink. But what was most cruel was that we were not
permitted to answer on our own account; we might only send a post card
in the name of the commandant, acknowledging the receipt of a letter or
other communication, and giving the briefest information as to health,
somewhat in this fashion: “Your son (brother, nephew) is well. The money
(or whatever it was) sent to him by you has been received, and he begs
you to send him the following—--” This is signed by the commandant, but
as the card is written by the prisoner himself, his correspondents may
be assured from his handwriting that he is alive and is in possession of
their missives, nothing further. Under such conditions correspondence is
often a torture to both parties, yet those who could have even this much
intercourse with home were envied by the lonely ones who never expected
letters at all. There was more than one such among us, and how often
when the letters were distributed would one or other of them say
sorrowfully, “If only someone would send me a line!” It is terrible to
think of being thousands of miles from home in the solitudes of Siberia,
and not to know of a single soul who may sometimes remember one’s
existence; yet, as I say, some of our comrades at Kara were in this
forlorn situation. How great was the rejoicing if one of these outcasts
unexpectedly received a letter from some relation, or some friend of
former days! The lucky one would order tea, and perhaps even cakes for
the whole room to celebrate the occasion; the letter itself would become
a much-talked-of treasure, and the most interesting portions would be
read aloud to intimate friends.

Treating one’s room-mates was also customary if one had had any
specially good news from home. The contents of such a letter would be
immediately imparted to all the other rooms, and sometimes extracts
containing tidings of universal interest would be circulated. Certainly
the commandants, and the “tom-cat” particularly, took every means for
suppressing such tidings, blotting out in our letters everything outside
the narrow circle of personal matters; but we had always ways and means
of obtaining intelligence of political and other events that it
concerned us to know about. The inventiveness shown by some of our party
in devising this was sometimes astonishing; moreover, we occasionally
managed to get delivered to us through the commandant literature
strictly prohibited in Russia. He, of course, was enjoined to examine
most carefully every book and parcel that arrived; but we contrived to
supplement the officially prescribed channels of correspondence, either
by inducing some corruptible member of the prison staff to assist us, or
by some other device. Intercourse with the women’s prison, which was
strictly forbidden, was also effected by means of this “secret post,”
and it likewise enabled us to communicate with the exiles in different
parts of Siberia.

Our official postal transactions were always effected through our
_stàrosta_, the commandant telling him what money had been received and
for whom, and he informing the prisoners. The librarian had charge of
all printed matter sent to us, and the order in which each new book or
newspaper should be passed round was arranged most exactly beforehand.
If anyone had a present—linen, boots, or anything of that kind—it was
open to him to keep it for himself or to hand it over to the _stàrosta_.
In the latter case everyone was made aware that such and such things
were to be had; whoever wanted them might announce the fact, and the
award was decided by lot. If the gift consisted of eatables, it was at
once given to the _stàrosta_, who divided it among the rooms. In each
room there was a “general divider”—one whose office it was to divide
with scrupulous exactitude among all the inmates every portion of food
and every tit-bit that fell to their share—a task which frequently
called for the exhibition of much talent and artistic judgment. This
post of “divider” was usually held by somebody of a mathematical turn,
and he officiated as carver at meals, serving out each person’s due
portion with careful impartiality.

This striving after equality in every particular developed into a
passion with some of our number, till it became actually painful to them
to receive any little gift that could not be shared, and they would feel
obliged to apologise for it to all their comrades; very rarely did
anyone who received a present wish selfishly to keep it entirely to
himself. A few were so scrupulous that they did not consider it right,
in asking for new books from home, to consult merely their own
individual taste, but made the others draw up a list of books that they
wished for; and that perfect equality might govern the transaction, the
sum of money set aside for the purchase was divided among the whole
number of prisoners, so that each one could choose books to the value of
the amount allotted to him. In this way everybody would be catered
for—the lover of _belles lettres_ as well as the student of abstruse
scientific or philosophical subjects.

Ranking next to the mails as a source of enjoyment must be reckoned the
bath-house. Especially after a week of hard and dirty kitchen work, the
vapour-bath and clean linen were a real luxury, and when one came from
the bath-room, extended one’s tired limbs on the bed-shelf, and let
one’s thoughts wander idly as one sipped hot tea, a feeling of such
physical well-being would pervade one as to cause all disagreeables to
be forgotten for the moment. Although the freshly donned under-linen was
anything but fine, and not very artistically washed and got up, being
apt to scratch a sensitive skin; although the grey prison-clothes were
neither convenient nor beautiful—still one revelled in the sensation of
comfort and relaxation, and if it happened also to be mail-day, delight
was complete.

“Well, I hope you’re enjoying yourself, you epicurean!” someone would
cry, knowing full well himself the pleasure of such an hour.

Chess was a favourite pastime, and we had some champion players among
us, especially Yatzèvitch and Zoubrtchitsky, who, besides having had
much practice, had studied the game scientifically. Sometimes we had
chess tournaments, with all the rigour of the game, and prizes were
given—of course, consisting of tea or some other of our small luxuries.
On such occasions the whole prison took the liveliest interest in the
combat; the final “mate” being announced in all the rooms, and the play
exhaustively criticised.

Music was also cultivated. Our choir had an extensive repertory, in
which the melancholy moods of Little Russia were contrasted with the
dramatic Great Russian folk-songs. It included operatic choruses, and,
of course, the revolutionary songs so dear to us all—the Marseillaise
and many others. After Commandant Nikolin had departed, and we were less
harried and thwarted, one of our geniuses constructed a violin, upon
which various gifted friends practised with great assiduity: not—it must
be confessed—exactly to the edification of the rest of us who had
perforce to listen. Posen and one or two others tortured the ears of
their comrades further by truly terrible musical performances on
ordinary hair-combs.

Another way of passing time was to invent riddles and act charades,
which was especially fashionable in our “Sanhedrin.” And when some
new-comers brought with them a few packs of cards, the game of
whist—then just coming into vogue in Russia—so carried away some of our
party that they were at it literally day and night. On the whole,
however, card-playing did not find much favour among us.

Physical exercise would have been most welcome to many of us, but as
long as the “tom-cat” ruled the roast it was possible only in a very
restricted measure; all he would consent to was that in winter we should
make a sledge-track in a part of the yard where the ground sloped
slightly, and we there disported ourselves on little sledges made by
ourselves.

[Illustration: YARD OF KARA PRISON FOR “POLITICALS”]

[Illustration:

  YARD OF KARA PRISON FOR “POLITICALS”
    To face page 254
]

One of Nikolin’s successors saw no objection to our laying out a garden,
and during the next spring we were extremely busy over this. Some of our
number, great lovers of nature, exhibited quite passionate energy in
this pursuit; they worked at their beds with most industrious care,
watered, manured, and weeded untiringly, and tended each plant as though
it were a beloved child. All sorts of different plants and flowers were
cultivated. I myself had a special affection for sunflowers, which
reminded me of my South Russian home; wherever possible I sowed their
seeds, and in summer my fosterlings shot up magnificently, their thick
stems standing erect along our “boulevard,” as we called the path by the
stockade, whence, by looking through the chinks, we could see the road
and the commandant’s house. When the tall plants hung down their heads,
it seemed as though they looked down on us poor captives and wondered at
the cruelty of man to man. “So many young men wasting their best years,
half their lives, here in prison, only because they strove for the
welfare of their country as they understood it!” And when the sunflowers
straightened themselves and held aloft their golden crowns, they might
be saying, “Do not lose courage, poor convicts! The time will come when
you too with proudly lifted heads shall return to your beloved home.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

Nikolin’s successor, Captain Yakovlov, exerted himself to mitigate the
severity of our prison régime, which the “tom-cat” had administered so
tyrannically. He seemed to be a compassionate and humane man, who—while
keeping to the prescribed regulations—was not concerned to aggravate our
hard lot by superfluous restrictions and unnecessary harshness. Perhaps
his conduct was partly influenced by the knowledge that he was only
filling the position temporarily, as a stop-gap for Colonel Masyukov of
the gendarmerie, who was shortly to be sent from Petersburg; probably
also he wanted to have as little squabbling with us as possible. He
belonged to a class of men to be found in great numbers both in Russia
and in Siberia, who have one overwhelming weakness—love of drink. His
devotion to the bottle was most assiduous, and he often had evidently
had more than was good for him; but for all that, we breathed more
freely under his rule, and regarded with anxiety the advent of the new
commandant.

After a six months’ interval Colonel Masyukov entered upon his office,
in the winter of 1877, and made his first round of the prison,
accompanied by Yakovlov. He was a man of short stature, with grey hair
and moustache, very quick in his movements, despite his fifty years; he
spoke in an unpleasant falsetto voice, and looked rather like a plucked
chicken. His whole appearance betokened a weak and characterless
disposition, as unluckily proved to be the case, both to his own and our
misfortune. Intellectually limited, but good-tempered enough, Masyukov
was quite unlike one’s idea of a staff officer of gendarmerie; indeed,
he was in no way cut out for such a service, and knew this himself
better than anyone. He had only joined the gendarmerie as a result of
unforeseen circumstances. Son of a country gentleman, he had been for a
time an officer in the Guards, afterwards returning to his estate, where
he gave himself up to riotous living. The good dinners he gave were
probably the reason of his being elected Marshal of Nobility for his
district, and his subsequent dissipation led eventually to the ruin of
his finances. To re-establish himself in some measure, and also, it was
said, to discharge his debts of honour, he was obliged again to enter
the service of the State, and he became an officer of gendarmes, induced
by the higher pay given in that branch of the service, as compared with
others of like standing, especially for those employed in the distant
parts of Siberia. The Commandant of Kara was paid four to five thousand
roubles per annum, with house, servants, horses, fuel, etc. As a late
officer in the Guards and Marshal of Nobility, Masyukov was soon made
colonel, and appointed to the vacant post at Kara. He himself declared
afterwards that he had come with the honest intention of doing his best
to better our lot; but hell is proverbially paved with good resolutions,
and the political prisoners suffered more under this well-meaning _bon
vivant_ than under many a thorough-paced tyrant. But I will not
anticipate.

During the early days of Masyukov’s rule we were able to rejoice in more
than one concession. Besides the granting of our petition for a garden,
the doors of our rooms were now hardly ever locked by day, and within
the stockade surrounding the prison yard we could wander about as we
pleased. In Nikolin’s time one of the rooms had always been empty, and
for some reason or other he had refused to let us use it; now we were
allowed possession of it, and also of the wing containing single cells,
during the summer months. We thus had more space, and anyone who wished
for solitude could be alone for a few hours at a time; our musicians,
too, with their instruments of torture, could be sent where they
disturbed no one.

Another relief was that the rule against the possession of tools was
less strictly interpreted, and we were no longer obliged to conceal any
work we had in hand. A vice and some other tools were procured, and our
arts and crafts flourished exceedingly. Even an amateur photographer was
discovered among us, and with the help of our carpenters set up a
regular studio; but I cannot say that his performances were at all
remarkable.

Masyukov did his best to meet our views, and fulfilled our requests
whenever possible. Among other things he agreed that we might settle as
we liked in what room each of us should live; so Stefanòvitch and I at
once made use of this permission. Our two and a half years’ abode in the
“Sanhedrin” had been very irksome to us both, and when the “great
migration” caused by the above-mentioned expansion of our territory took
place, we transferred ourselves into the room called the “Commune,” or
sometimes “the hospital.” It was more comfortable than the other rooms
in one or two particulars; it contained proper bedsteads, for instance,
and besides the big table there were also little tables, one between
each pair of beds.

It was, as a rule, unusual for the inmates of a room voluntarily to
change their abode; we called the feeling about this “room-patriotism.”
Such patriots were very keen about their own room, which was, of course,
always “the best”; they never left their room-mates in the lurch, were
proud of the success of any of them, and sorrowed over their griefs. The
inmates of the “Commune” seemed the least possessed by this _esprit de
corps_, perhaps because most of them were among those nomads who had
already changed rooms more than once. Here, too, in contradistinction to
the habits of the other rooms, each man was much occupied with his own
affairs; we isolated ourselves more, and rarely held common debates or
jollifications; most of us immersed ourselves in serious study, and on
that account less noise and merriment went on among us.

One of the most interesting of our new room-mates, and an original
altogether, was Leo Zlatopòlsky,[94] to whom I must devote a few words.
He had studied in the Petersburg Technological Institute, had been
concerned in the “Trial of the Twenty” in 1882, and sentenced to twenty
years’ penal servitude. He had never himself been an active
revolutionist, but as he was proficient in mathematical and mechanical
knowledge, he had helped the Terrorists in purely technical matters.
Even as a student he had been looked on as an inventive genius, and in
prison inventions became a mania with him. For a long time he was busy
with the project of a circular town, wherein everything was to be run by
electricity; and even plants were to be cultivated by that means, for
the light and heat of the sun were much too simple affairs to satisfy
our inventor. He had a scheme for a flying-machine that should not only
carry us all up into aërial heights, but should also be unaffected by
the velocity of our Mother Earth’s proper motion. Then he evolved his
own theory of values; and beside all these high matters he would also
occupy himself with the most prosaic and humble affairs, such as new
methods of doing the washing, boiling potatoes, or making shoes. He
elaborated a new theory of heating dwellings, invented new card games;
in short, in every department of life, he was prepared to upset the
existing condition of things and build it all up anew in some hitherto
undreamt-of fashion. His beautiful plans, however, all suffered from one
small disqualification: they were never practicable in real life. That,
of course, he would never allow, declaring his inventions to be perfect
and beyond criticism; but this did not prevent him from throwing one
after another aside to pursue some fresh idea with equal energy. Not
unnaturally he soon became the butt of everyone’s jokes, and most absurd
stories were told about him. He was really a very capable and learned
man; but there was just something wanting to make him a genius. Perhaps
we were right in setting him down, as we did, among Lombroso’s
“matoids.”

Footnote 94:

  See portrait, p. 209.

[Illustration:

  DULEMBA, KOHN, RECHNYEVSKY, LURI, MANKOVSKY
    To face page 258
]

                  *       *       *       *       *

During the first three years of my stay in Kara the number of prisoners
in our prison remained practically constant; a few were allowed to
settle in the penal colony, but their places were soon taken by
new-comers. Besides Spandoni—left behind at Krasnoyarsk, as I have
related—who rejoined us at Kara in the spring of 1886, five comrades
arrived in the autumn of the same year. They had been condemned in the
“Case of the Proletariat,” in Warsaw: Dulemba, a workman, to thirteen
years’ “katorga”; Kohn, a student, eight years; Luri, an officer of
engineers, condemned to death, but reprieved and sentenced to twenty
years’ penal servitude; Mankòvsky, a workman, sixteen years;
Rechnyèvsky, a graduate of the College of Jurisprudence in Petersburg,
fourteen years.[95] The year after came Pashkòvsky, who in March, 1887,
was condemned, (as a participator in the attempt upon Alexander III.,)
to ten years’ “katorga”; and the peasant Ozovsky, sentenced to six
years. In the course of 1888 arrived Peter Yakubòvitch and
Souhomlìn,[96] sentenced respectively to eighteen and fifteen years’
penal servitude, both in the Lopàtin case.

Footnote 95:

  See portrait-group opposite. From a photograph taken on the arrival at
  Kara of these five “politicals.”—_Trans._

Footnote 96:

  See portrait, p. 260.

In the course of time participators in nearly every political trial of
the period—from the famous Netshaëv case in 1871 to that of Lopàtin and
Sigida in 1887—were numbered among the “politicals” in the two Kara
prisons, that for men and that for women; and as, of course, the various
comrades talked much of the events in which they themselves had been
concerned, Kara furnished a sort of living chronicle of the
revolutionary movement, and was perhaps the only place where one could
study the history of Russian Socialism from the testimony of personal
experience. None of us, however, ever thought of committing to paper the
material that was here available; and it is much to be doubted whether
there is now anyone left in a position to do so. Much that would be
extremely interesting is probably destined to remain buried in oblivion.

During my term of imprisonment none of those implicated in the
first-mentioned Netshaëv trial (which belonged to the “Propagandist”
phase of our movement, in 1870,) were still in Kara. They had all been
released from prison and sent into exile, and I saw nothing of them; but
of course I had known personally many of these revolutionists of earlier
days when they were still in freedom.

I shared the captivity of several who were sentenced in the various
political trials towards the end of the seventies, these having been
mostly concerned in deeds of violence, from armed resistance to the
police to attempts on the life of the Tsar. The chief combatants in that
terrorist campaign had for the most part ended their days on the
scaffold, or were buried alive within the grim walls of Schlüsselburg or
in the Alexei-Ravelin wing of the Fortress of Peter and Paul. I had been
acquainted with most of them, both men and women, before their fate
overtook them, and I could set down much that I learned from these
comrades in the terrorist struggle; but my reminiscences already
threaten to assume formidable dimensions, and I will only briefly
mention some of the most remarkable of such incidents.

[Illustration:

  LURI, SOUHOMLIN, AND RECHNYEVSKY, IN PRISON DRESS
    To face page 260
]

Voynoràlsky and Kovàlik were two prominent actors in the Propagandist
movement, both of whom had been justices of the peace. In May, 1876,
when imprisoned in the examination-prison in Petersburg, assisted by
comrades outside they made an attempt to escape. They succeeded in
getting out of their cell and climbing down a rope-ladder from one of
the corridor windows; but an official who happened to be driving past
the prison, thinking they were ordinary criminals, gave the alarm, and
they were caught. They were sentenced to terms of penal servitude in the
“Trial of the 193”; but again an attempt was made to rescue them, a plan
being made to enable them to escape while being transported to the
Khàrkov prison, where the prisoners considered most dangerous were then
confined. This was in July, 1878. A number of armed men, two of them
mounted, stopped the prison-van in which Voynoràlsky and Kovàlik were
being conveyed; one of the gendarmes guarding it was shot, and the
attempt might have been successful had not the horses taken fright and
stampeded, which led to the recapture of the prisoners. Voynoràlsky and
Kovàlik spent many years of confinement in European Russia, and were
then sent, in company with many other revolutionists, to Kara, where
they finished their term of imprisonment, subsequently being exiled in
Yakutsk. Most of their companions found graves in the wilds of Siberia,
but Voynoràlsky and Kovàlik survived their hour of release; in the
winter of 1898-1899 they returned to European Russia, where Voynoràlsky
died soon afterwards in his own home.

The attempted rescue just described had further consequences. The
evening after, one of the riders who had stopped the prison-van was
arrested at Khàrkov station; this was Alexei Medvèdiev, also called
Fomin. He managed subsequently to escape from Khàrkov gaol with a number
of ordinary criminals, by burrowing under a wall. As, however, outside
help failed them, there was nothing for it but to hide in a wood near
by, where they were soon recaptured. The comrades then resolved to try
and rescue Medvèdiev, and arranged the following plan. Two young men,
Berezniàk and Rashko, disguised themselves as gendarmes, and brought to
the prison a forged order that Medvèdiev should be handed over to them
and taken for examination to the office of the gendarmerie. But either
in consequence (as the two asserted) of treachery, or else because the
prison staff saw something suspicious about the supposed gendarmes, they
were arrested on the spot. Yatzevitch was arrested at the same time, he
being on the watch outside, ready to assist the flight of the others;
and soon afterwards Yefremov and some others involved in the affair were
also captured. In the subsequent trial Yefremov was condemned to death,
but the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life, and Berezniàk
had a like penalty; these two and Yatzevitch were sent at once to Kara.
Medvèdiev was treated differently: he was condemned to death and the
sentence modified to lifelong penal servitude; but as attempts to rescue
him were dreaded he was kept closely guarded in first one, then another
West Siberian prison, was then taken to the Alexei-Ravelin in
Petersburg, and was only brought to Kara in 1884. He was a man of
consummate bravery, who literally despised danger, and was always ready
to embark on the most perilous adventure. He had been a postillion, and
had only received a scanty education at an elementary school; but by his
own exertions while in prison he had gained quite a respectable amount
of knowledge. He was particularly clever with his fingers, and performed
some really astonishing feats. While imprisoned in Petersburg he
secretly modelled a statuette in bread, which, when it was eventually
discovered by the gendarmes, evoked great admiration from the commandant
of the fortress and other officials, so marvellously was it executed.
Thanks partly to this achievement, he was afterwards granted a special
order modifying his sentence of lifelong “katorga” to a term of twenty
years, upon which he was sent to Kara. There he became an adept in
various handicrafts; he was an excellent tailor, shoemaker, engraver,
and sculptor; and afterwards, when he was living “free” in exile, he
became a watchmaker and goldsmith. Unfortunately soon after he left the
prison he fell a victim to alcoholism, to which he had an inherited
predisposition; all attempts at reclaiming him were vain, and in a few
years he was beyond hope.

Just about the time of the attempted rescue at Khàrkov the
revolutionists in Petersburg were put into a state of frightful
excitement by other events. A number of those condemned in the “Case of
the 193” were awaiting, in the Peter and Paul fortress, their
transportation to Siberia; and in consequence of the vexatious and cruel
treatment to which they were subjected, they had recourse to a
hunger-strike, which, as most of them had already suffered years of
imprisonment while still on remand, might easily have proved fatal to
their enfeebled constitutions. After the strike had lasted some days,
the society _Zemlyà i Vòlya_ (Land and Liberty) became aware of what was
going on, and one of its members, Kravtchinsky,[97] a former lieutenant
in the artillery, declared at once that he would avenge his comrades by
killing General Mèzentzev, the chief of gendarmerie, the man who was
chiefly responsible for the persecution of the “politicals.” This deed
he wished to undertake single-handed and openly without troubling about
safety for himself, like Vera Zassoùlitch, who on January 24th, 1878,
had fired at General Trepòv, Governor of Petersburg.[98] Many of
Kravtchinsky’s comrades—myself among the number—opposed his resolve.
Mèzentzev was not worth such a sacrifice, and we insisted that if the
attempt were made it should be in such a manner as to make possible the
escape of the perpetrator. To this end General Mèzentzev’s doings were
carefully observed that we might ascertain his hours of coming and
going; and close to his dwelling a carriage was constantly stationed
with the famous trotter Barbar, who had already saved one life—that of
Prince Peter Kropotkin in his escape from the prison hospital in 1876.
One day in August, 1878, Mèzentzev was stabbed in one of the busiest
streets of Petersburg, and, thanks to the speed of Barbar, Kravtchinsky
and his companion Barannikov got away safely. Subsequently a great
number of persons were arrested on account of this deed, among others,
Adrian Mihaïlov, who was accused of acting as coachman. He was sentenced
to twenty years’ “katorga,” and was for some time my room-mate at Kara.

Footnote 97:

  Better known in England as Stepniak.—_Trans._

Footnote 98:

  For having ordered the flogging of a political prisoner.—_Trans._

Adrian Mihaïlov was another very talented member of our company. He had
a thirst for knowledge, and a really remarkable memory. He had been a
medical student, knew a great deal of natural science, and had dipped
into various other branches of learning. We called him “the living
encyclopædia,” and it was popularly supposed that there was hardly a
question he could not answer. He could always give the date of any
historical event, seemed to remember everything he read, and easily made
himself at home in the most difficult subjects. He was resolute,
inflexible, and energetic; and his mental superiority gave him an
immense influence over his companions.

Finally, I must mention Yemelyànov,[99] one of those concerned in the
assassination of Alexander II. As is well known, the Tsar was killed by
a bomb thrown under his carriage by Grỳnevitsky.[100] Besides that youth
and Russakov, who was brought to the scaffold, Yemelyànov was also
directly accessory to the deed. He was standing close by when the
explosion took place, with another bomb in readiness, but did not need
to make use of it, seeing that the Tsar had already met his fate. He was
arrested soon after, and with ten others was condemned to death in the
“Trial of the Twenty.” The death-sentence was, however, only carried out
in the case of Suhànov, an officer of marines, that of the others being
commuted to penal servitude for life. Yemelyànov and his companions were
imprisoned in the Fortress of Peter and Paul. He was to have been sent
to Schlüsselburg when the new fortress there was completed, but owing to
his being seized by serious illness this was not done, and instead he
was sent to Kara in 1884. He was the son of a sacristan of the Orthodox
Church, had attended a school of handicraft, and had later been sent at
the State’s expense to Paris, where he sang as a chorister in the chapel
of the Russian Embassy. When a youth of twenty he had returned to
Russia, and associated himself with the Terrorists. He possessed
considerable intelligence, and had gradually acquired a fair amount of
information, self-taught. When I became acquainted with him he was a
disillusioned sceptic, and spoke ironically of revolutionary ideas. Like
Fomitchov and one or two others, he had become an admirer of Russian
imperialism, and he reaped the reward of his opinions; but of that
later.

Footnote 99:

  See portrait, p. 209.

Footnote 100:

  Grỳnevitsky himself was killed by the explosion.—_Trans._



                              CHAPTER XXVI
                           THE WOMEN’S PRISON


I come now to the most tragic time of my imprisonment and the saddest of
my recollections, a series of events in connection with our unhappy
fellow-sufferers in the women’s prison. We were always well instructed
as to how our ladies were faring, for in spite of all the measures taken
to prevent it, letters continually passed between us. Concerning the
subject of the following narrative I also learned many additional
details later from some of our women comrades.

When I first came to Kara ten women “politicals” were imprisoned there,
one of whom—Lèbedieva—died soon after my arrival. The most remarkable
among those remaining was Sophia Löschern von Herzfeld. She was the
daughter of a general, and her relations belonged to the Court circles
in Petersburg. She joined the Propagandist movement in the early
sixties, and lived among the peasants, dressed like one of themselves,
trying to diffuse the ideas of “peaceful” Socialism, if I may so call
it. She was arrested, endured four years’ imprisonment while still under
examination, and was at last banished to Siberia in the “Case of the
193.” The efforts of one of her relatives, a lady in the Tsaritsa’s
household, procured her pardon, and in 1878 she was released from
prison, at which time I made her acquaintance in Petersburg. But she was
not allowed to enjoy her liberty for long; a year later she was arrested
in Kiëv, and resisted capture “with weapons in her hand.” She was
brought before a court-martial, together with Ossìnsky and Voloshenko;
she and Ossìnsky were condemned to death, and he paid the full penalty
of the law, but in her case “by favour” the sentence was commuted to
penal servitude for life, and she was deported to Kara in 1879. Sophia
Löschern von Herzfeld was modest and even shy in manner, giving the
impression of an extremely reserved character. She suffered a longer
term of imprisonment than any other participant in the revolutionary
movement of the early seventies.

[Illustration: ANNA KORBA]

[Illustration: ELIZABETH KOVALSKAYA]

[Illustration: NADYESHDA SIGIDA]

[Illustration: MARIA KOVALEVSKAYA]

[Illustration: NADYESHDA SMIRNITSKAYA]

[Illustration: SOPHIA BOGOMOLETZ]

To face page 266

Her friend Anna Korba[101] I had also known in Petersburg in 1879; she
had then just returned from the seat of war in Turkey, where she had
been nursing the wounded. She belonged to a German family named
Meinhardt, naturalised in Russia, numerous members of which had filled
high official positions, and she herself married a foreigner. She had
been extremely active in philanthropic work, and was adored by the
people of the provincial town where she lived; but she learned by bitter
experience how futile, under the existing political conditions, were all
attempts to effect even the smallest reforms by merely quiet educative
means, and she joined the terrorist society _Naròdnaia Vòlya_ in the
beginning of the eighties. It was just then that the desperate struggle
of that party against the Tsar’s despotic government had reached its
height. Anna Korba saw her friends and comrades arrested by the dozen,
sent to the scaffold, or buried alive in prison. The “white terror”
raged. In 1882 the chief of the secret police, Soudyèhkin, had succeeded
in capturing most of the Terrorists who still remained at large after
the assault on Alexander II., and Anna Korba took up the task of
continuing the struggle in company with the last remnants of the
fighters. A secret laboratory for the manufacture of dynamite bombs was
set up in Petersburg; this was discovered by Soudyèhkin, and in June,
1882, Anna Korba was arrested, together with Gratchènsky, the officer
Butzèvitch, and the married couple Prybylyev. Next spring she was tried
with sixteen others, and sentenced to twenty years’ penal servitude.

Footnote 101:

  See portrait, p. 266.

Anna Korba was a highly educated woman, in character courageous,
even-tempered, and persevering. She holds the same views to-day as when
she first threw herself into the fight, and this unswerving faith in her
cause impresses with respect even people who cannot share her opinions.

Before I proceed to describe the other inmates of the women’s prison, I
must digress for a moment to relate an incident which in its time caused
great excitement among the newspaper-reading public. Towards the end of
February, 1881, the police of Petersburg had their suspicions directed
to a certain cheesemonger’s shop in that city, where something illegal
was supposed to be going forward. A search-party, one member of which
was an engineer of the pioneer corps, was sent to investigate, but
discovered nothing of any consequence. The next day came the
assassination of the Tsar, and three days after that the cheese-shop was
suddenly deserted by its occupants, among whom had been a married couple
calling themselves Kòbozev—peasants from the interior of Russia,
according to their perfectly regular papers. The police now made a more
effectual search, and found that a subterranean passage had been made
from the cheese-shop to the Màlaya Sadòvaya, a street through which the
Tsar often passed. This tunnel had been meant to serve as a mine for
blowing up the Tsar’s carriage in case the bombs had failed to do their
work. It is easy to imagine what must have been the feelings of the two
revolutionists who passed under the name of Kòbozev when the police made
their first visit to the shop; the underground passage had then just
been completed, and the cases and barrels, supposed to contain cheese,
were filled with the earth that had been dug out. Had the police but
lifted the straw matting that covered them, the whole plot, like many
others before, might have been doomed to failure.

The humble peasant-woman who had served in that shop was Anna Yakìmova.
She was the daughter of a priest, and had been a village schoolmistress.
Like so many others, she had gone “among the people,” and had been one
of the accused in the “Case of the 193”; she was acquitted, but was
nevertheless sent by administrative order to a forlorn spot in the north
of Russia, whence in 1879 she escaped and came to Petersburg, where I
made her acquaintance. Subsequently she joined the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_,
and took an active part in a series of attempts against the life of the
Tsar. She had helped Zhelyàbov and others in 1879 to undermine the
station at Alexandròvskaya, through which the Tsar was expected to pass.
After many escapes she was eventually arrested, and condemned to death
in the “Trial of the Twenty”; but her sentence was commuted, she was
imprisoned in the Fortress of Peter and Paul, and sent to Kara in 1884.
I need hardly say that Anna Yakìmova was a person of strong-willed and
determined character; all the women who took part in our movement of the
seventies were of one type in that respect, and eminently so Praskòvya
Ivanòvskaya and Nadyèshda Smirnitskaya, (both sentenced in 1883,) who,
with Yakìmova, formed a little group by themselves in the Kara prison.
They had been friends of old, shared the same opinions, and were similar
in tastes and temperament.

Besides these, Elizabeth Kovàlskaya,[102] Sophia Bogomòletz,[102] and
Elena Rossikòva,[103] all of whom were brought to Kara in 1885, and
Maria Kalyùshnaya—who, it will be remembered, had travelled thither with
Tchuikòv and myself—completed the number of our women “politicals.”

Footnote 102:

  See note, p. 189 _et seq._

Footnote 103:

  See page 192.

These inmates of the women’s prison constituted in a certain sense the
_élite_ of our band; for while in the men’s prison a great number were
mere boys whose opinions were scarcely formed, and who only languished
in Siberia because of senseless persecutions under martial law, the
women were without exception tried and convinced adherents of the
revolutionary movement, whose sentiments and ideas were fixed once and
for all. In Russia alone has the historical development of events
induced so great a number of women belonging to the upper classes of
society to leave the circles in which they were born, in order to aid in
freeing a nation from political slavery.

Conditions of life in the women’s prison were on the whole a little
better than in ours. Above all, each had a cell to herself—small, dark,
and damp, it is true, but this spared them the most irksome of our
trials, that absence of quiet which made our existence so hard to bear.
They could enjoy companionship if they so desired, as a large common
room was also provided for them, and the doors of the cells were left
open by day; but whenever they pleased they could isolate themselves.
They were better provided with material comforts than we were, for they
received more money from their relations; and they could even
occasionally contribute to our exchequer. Then, of course, they had not
to submit to the barbarous process of head-shaving; they might wear
their ordinary clothes, and the staff generally abstained from teasing
them with petty restrictions. But the peculiar characteristics of these
women, their whole mode of thought, their inflexibility of
purpose,—which under such conditions inevitably develops into
contrariety of temper,—led to a series of conflicts between themselves
as well as with the authorities. There was no unity of principle among
them in their attitude towards the prison rules. Whilst Sophia
Bogomòletz, Maria Kovalèvskaya, and Elena Rossikova regarded it as a
part of their political programme, to which they conscientiously
adhered, that they should maintain a continual feud with the staff about
any and every possible circumstance, the others held that conflicts
should not be needlessly provoked. These differences of opinion caused
frequent friction, and personal relations between the prisoners were
occasionally somewhat strained.

In the spring of 1887 Maria Kovalèvskaya was brought from Irkutsk to
Kara. She arrived just at a time when the disputes in the women’s prison
had become unbearable; and shortly afterwards Sophia Löschern von
Herzfeld, Anna Korba, Anna Yakimova, and Paraskova Ivanòvskaya
petitioned the commandant to separate them from the others, their
request being granted. At the same time, in consequence of some squabble
with the staff, Sophia Bogomoletz and Elena Rossikòva were removed to
another prison; there were, therefore, for some time only four women in
the prison at Ust-Kara—Kovàlskaya, Kovalèvskaya, Kalyùshnaya, and
Smirnitskaya.

Early in 1888 the Governor-General, Baron Korf, came to visit the
prisons of Kara. When he arrived with his suite at the women’s prison
Elizabeth Kovàlskaya was sitting on a bench out in the open air, and as
the Governor-General came up to her she remained quietly seated,
vouchsafing him not a glance. He addressed her harshly, saying that in
his presence she ought to stand up, that he was the highest official in
the district.

“I did not elect you to that position,” replied Kovàlskaya calmly, and
remained as before.

The functionary was beside himself with rage, and informed the
commandant that he would send written instructions how to deal with this
refractory prisoner; so shortly afterwards there came an order to send
Kovàlskaya to the central prison in Verkhny-Udinsk, “because by her
unruly behaviour she had a demoralising influence on the other prisoners
in Ust-Kara.”

Kovàlskaya’s friends asserted that she had purposely provoked the
conflict in order to effect her removal to another prison, so hateful
had the sojourn in Kara become to her. The Governor-General’s order
would therefore have been most welcome to her; but the stupid, cowardly
commandant Masyukov supposed otherwise, and took it into his head that
she and her companions would offer resistance. He thereupon came to the
idiotic and inhuman decision that the delinquent should be conveyed away
secretly. Early one morning, while the prisoners still slept, gendarmes
accompanied by ordinary convicts burst into her cell, seized on the
sleeping Kovàlskaya, and dragged her, clad only in her nightdress, to
the office, where she was ordered to dress and make ready to start for
her new place of confinement. Naturally the unfortunate lady screamed
when aroused so rudely from her sleep, and the other prisoners waking up
sprang from their beds and were witnesses of the inexplicable and
insulting treatment to which their comrade was subjected. They could
imagine nothing else but that a common assault on her honour was
meditated, and their fury against the commandant knew no bounds.

For a long time only uncertain rumours about these events reached our
ears, for our secret post was not working regularly at the time. We were
first supplied with exact tidings through Golubtsòv, the sergeant of the
guard, in a very unusual way. This honest fellow, Golubtsòv, who could
hardly read and write, was a very important personage in our prison. He
was a remarkably sensible, clever, and tactful man; his relations with
the “politicals” during a long course of years and under different
commandants had taught him a great deal, and he thoroughly understood
our way of looking at things. He was thus enabled to avoid rubs and
disputes, and we were always on the best of terms with him; this
strengthened his position, and with his good sense and tact gave him the
upper hand over the stupid and inexperienced Masyukov. The wise
sergeant, in fact, was the presiding genius of the place, and ruled the
commandant completely.

When the Governor-General’s order arrived, and Masyukov in his foolish
shortsightedness evolved his plan of carrying off Elizabeth Kovàlskaya,
Golubtsòv warned him what would be the consequences; but for once no
heed was paid to his advice, and it was only when the women prisoners
started a hunger-strike as a protest against their comrade’s treatment
that the commandant sought counsel from his subordinate. Golubtsòv
advised him to lay the matter before the “politicals” in the men’s
prison, and ask us to intervene. This was the more natural and
reasonable, because one of our number, Kalyùshny, had a wife and a
sister among the strikers. He had been a student in the University of
Khàrkov, was an intelligent, high-spirited young man, a charming
companion, and a great favourite among us. He was a Terrorist, had been
sentenced in 1888 to fifteen years’ “katorga,” and with him his wife,
Nadyèshda Smirnitskaya. Maria Kalyùshnaya, my companion on the journey
to Kara, was his sister, and both these ladies had witnessed the
alarming scene which had led to the desperate protest they were now
making. These facts suggested to the wise sergeant his plan, and he
advised Masyukov to appoint Kalyùshny as intermediary in the affair.
Masyukov was sensible enough to agree; he had Kalyùshny brought to his
house, and told him straightforwardly all that had taken place, ending
with the information that Kalyùshny’s wife, his sister, and Maria
Kovalèvskaya, had been refusing food for several days. He then begged
Kalyùshny to go to Ust-Kara, pacify the women, and induce them to give
up their hunger-strike, promising beforehand that he would do anything
in reason to give them satisfaction. Kalyùshny said to us afterwards
that he was sure the unlucky commandant really regretted his conduct in
the affair.

Kalyùshny told Masyukov he must consult his comrades before undertaking
the mission, and asked that we might be allowed to take counsel
together. This was agreed to, and we all met to consider and discuss the
circumstances—a thing that had not been heard of in Kara since the
prison had been put under the gendarmerie. The tidings given us by the
unhappy husband and brother regarding the hunger-strike of the women
moved us deeply. When he ceased speaking a stillness as of death reigned
over our gathering, and then the usually silent Yatzèvitch began the
debate. Without much discussion we decided that another delegate must
accompany Kalyùshny, and that they should try to prevail on the women to
desist from their protest, assuring them that we should ourselves now
take over the arrangement of the business with Masyukov. To the
commandant we declared that he must apologise to the three ladies.

It was arranged that our two delegates should be taken to the women’s
prison, fifteen versts (about ten miles) distant, accompanied by
gendarmes, though all this was entirely against the regulations.

When they returned from their mission, and we had assembled to hear the
result, they told us that the famishing women absolutely refused to be
contented with an apology from the commandant. They all three declared
that they would only desist from their protest if Masyukov were
withdrawn from Kara.

The majority of us—myself among the number—saw at once that this was an
impossible demand. The reactionary Government, with Count Dmitri Tolstoi
at its head, would never recall the commandant, even if all the
“politicals” in Siberia starved themselves to death; but we thought we
might perhaps find a way out of the difficulty if we could induce the
commandant to ask of his own accord to be transferred elsewhere on some
pretext or other. To this the commandant on his side, and the ladies on
theirs, consented; but the latter insisted positively that if Masyukov
had not taken his departure within a certain fixed period of some
months, they would again refuse food and persist in their protest to the
bitter end.

This, as might readily be foreseen, meant merely a postponement of the
question. But I must return for the present to our own affairs in the
men’s prison.



                             CHAPTER XXVII
        THE “COLONISTS”—FURTHER EVENTS IN THE WOMEN’S PRISON—THE
                  HUNGER-STRIKES—THE YAKUTSK MASSACRE


The summer of 1888 brought troubles also to us in the men’s prison,
though they had nothing to do with the grievances of the women.

Among the inmates of the “hospital” room was Vlastòpoulo, formerly an
officer in the army, condemned in 1879 to fifteen years’ “katorga,” this
sentence having been subsequently increased to the life-term, in
punishment for an attempt at escape. He was a man of many gifts and well
equipped with varied information, firm in character, very proud and
ambitious; and he was held by us to be unalterably fixed in his
terrorist principles. His comrades placed great confidence in him, and
esteemed him highly, as they testified by twice electing him _stàrosta_.

In the spring of this year (1888) Vlastòpoulo’s roommates, of whom I was
one, noticed that he was becoming short-tempered, peevish, and restless.
About this time we were visited by an official of the Imperial Police
Department—one Russìnov by name, a privy councillor. Tours of inspection
were often made by high officials from Petersburg, and had for their
real object the inciting of political prisoners to “repentance,” and the
urging them to sue for pardon. These efforts were sometimes successful.
Weak-minded people were occasionally found who would sing, “Pater,
peccavi”; but it is worthy of note that such instances never occurred
among the women “politicals.”

On this occasion we were unaware that Councillor Russìnov had made
proposals of recantation to any repentant souls among us; but one
morning, shortly after his departure, Vlastòpoulo left the prison in the
company of gendarmes, handing to one of the comrades as he passed
through the door a note, which when read aloud, left us all perfectly
thunderstruck. Vlastòpoulo informed us that he had lost all faith in the
justice of the revolutionary struggle, and had therefore resolved to
“cast himself at the foot of the throne,” as he expressed it, _i.e._ to
petition the Tsar for pardon.

No previous occurrence of the kind had been at all like this, and the
impression on us was overwhelming. Vlastòpoulo was, as I have said, a
most prominent person in our ranks, and his example might well be
followed by others, especially considering the frame of mind in which
many of the prisoners were known to be.

This was, as I have explained, a time of thorough-going reaction in
Russia. Sufficient news penetrated the walls of our prison to convince
us that there was at the moment no hope whatever of any definite
immediate success in the revolutionary movement; and the fact of this
being so necessarily caused much brooding over gloomy and even desperate
thoughts, to which in prison one is but too prone. If some among us were
already troubled by feelings of disillusion and doubts of the validity
of our ideal, a further piece of news which arrived at this
juncture—totally unexpected and at first incredible—would naturally only
serve to heighten dismay. The rumour reached us that Leo Tihomìrov, one
of the best-known leaders of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, had become a
renegade. This man, whom chance alone had saved from death on the
scaffold, had fled from Russia in 1882; and it proved to be true that in
1887 he had written the pamphlet, _Why I Ceased to be a Revolutionist_,
in which he forswore his former convictions, and by which he gained the
Tsar’s pardon. He received permission to return to Russia, and
henceforth devoted his pen to the service of the existing Government, of
which he is to this day a supporter.

This instance of apostasy—unique in the history of the Russian
revolutionary movement—made the deepest impression throughout all
Russia. “If such a man as Tihomìrov has become a monarchist, and
acknowledges the absolute power of the Tsar, why then I, poor sinner,
can be a revolutionist only through a misunderstanding,” I heard one of
the foremost among us say; and, in fact, he himself soon afterwards sent
in a petition for pardon. Our worst fears were realised. Nine men in all
followed the example of Vlastòpoulo; among the number Yemelyànov, who
had held a bomb in readiness to throw at Alexander II., and Posen, whose
monarchist infatuation I have already mentioned. Of course, all this had
a most overwhelming and depressing effect upon us.

The authorities always took care that anyone who had petitioned for
pardon should at once be removed from our midst and interned outside the
prison until orders arrived from Petersburg. Naturally we ourselves
instantly broke off all relations with such a person, which often
occasioned very affecting scenes. The action of sending in a petition of
the kind we termed “asking to be sent to the colony”; and to this day
the word “colonist” has a sinister sound in Siberia, bearing the
implication of “renegade.”

Meanwhile the fight in the women’s prison was not at an end, but raged
more fiercely than ever. Four other women who had been brought to
Ust-Kara joined in the protest of Elizabeth Kovàlskaya’s three friends.
The authorities did not seem inclined to move Masyukov; and the truce
having expired, the women resolved to carry out their threat, and again
began a hunger-strike. When we learned this, we decided that we too must
associate ourselves with them in their protest, and we refused to take
food, declaring that we did so to show our solidarity with our women
comrades, though in our own opinion the commandant’s apology had been a
sufficient atonement for his offence.

Our prison now presented an unwonted appearance; all work was suspended,
the chest that served as our larder remained closed, the kitchen stood
empty, and about the yard wandered the prisoners, who for days ate
nothing, but in whom no signs of yielding could be discerned; it was
easier for us to starve than to eat, while we knew that our women
comrades were suffering the pangs of hunger.

We made no announcement of our proceedings to the commandant, and he
also preserved silence until the third day, when he sent for our
_stárosta_ to know why we were on strike. When our reasons were given
him he asked the _stárosta_ to inform us, as well as the women, that he
really was soon to leave the place; he had just sent in an application
to be relieved of his post, and had received a favourable answer. In
proof of this he showed a telegram relating to the matter.

We succeeded in persuading the women to give in for the time and to take
nourishment, they having now fasted for eight days; but they would not
entirely forego their protest against Masyukov, only modifying it so far
as simply to “boycott” him. Ever since the abduction of Elizabeth
Kovàlskaya the commandant had been afraid of appearing in their sight;
but now they determined to break off even indirect communication with
him. This decision cost them perhaps the heaviest sacrifice they could
have made: it meant that they refused to accept their mails, which had
always to pass through the hands of the commandant, so that they
received neither money nor letters. Consequently they were forced to
subsist on the prison rations alone, all communication with their
friends was stopped, and all tidings of the outer world that they could
have obtained from newspapers were lost to them. The natural result was
that in a very short time the poor women began to suffer greatly, both
physically and mentally, and that some of them were well-nigh driven to
despair. The commandant was obliged to send back whence they came all
letters addressed to the women prisoners. The alarm of their relations
and friends at getting no news and receiving back their own letters
unopened may well be imagined; and the knowledge of the suffering thus
caused to their dear ones was an added misery for the captives.

She who suffered most in this terrible ordeal was Nadyèshda Sigida, one
of the latest arrivals in Ust-Kara. I never knew her personally, but
from all I heard of her from her friends she must have been a very
sensitive young creature, gentle, affectionate, and attracted by all
that is good and beautiful. She was deeply attached to her family, who
lived in Taganrock, a small town in South Russia. Before her marriage
she had been a teacher in a school, and her whole heart had been in her
profession; she had taken but little direct part in the revolutionary
movement, and had been condemned to eight years’ penal servitude because
a secret printing-press and some bombs had been found in the house
inhabited by herself and her husband. The latter had been condemned to
death, the sentence being afterwards commuted to penal servitude for
life, and he had died on his way to the island of Saghalien. Fate had
dealt hardly with the poor woman: she herself had been unjustly
sentenced, she had lost a beloved husband, and she had arrived at the
Siberian prison at a juncture when she was obliged to take part—almost
involuntarily—in the drama I am now describing. The stoppage of all
communication with home must have been especially cruel to her; her
longing for her mother, brothers, and sisters made her nearly desperate,
as she pictured their feelings on receiving back their unopened letters
to her.

There seemed no way out of this terrible _impasse_. A year had gone by
since Kovàlskaya’s departure, and Masyukov was still commandant. The
women, in a state of desperation, declared at last that they could bear
the position of affairs no longer, and would put an end to it, cost what
it might. They consulted together, and again resolved to fast, so they
set up a hunger-strike for the third time.

“Will it be any good?” Sigida asked herself. The authorities seemed
determined not to yield; the hunger-strike had led to nothing hitherto,
and would probably once again prove a fruitless undertaking; would it
not be better that one victim should pay for all? Better that one alone
should suffer, than that all should sacrifice themselves. Sigida
resolved to save her companions.

One day she told the gendarme on duty that she wished for an interview
with the commandant, and asked to be taken to him. Masyukov saw nothing
out of the way in this request, and ordered Sigida to be brought to his
office.

Some of us were witnesses that day of a strange scene, which could be
followed by looking through the crevices in the stockade surrounding our
yard. A carriage brought a young lady, attended by two gendarmes, to the
commandant’s house; she entered, and shortly after the commandant, in a
state of great excitement, jumped out of the window into the yard
bareheaded, and ran away. The young lady soon appeared in front of the
house, and spoke with evident earnestness and decision to the gendarmes;
after which she began talking quietly with a warder’s children, and
caressing them. All this seemed most enigmatical; we gathered little
save that the young lady had insisted on having a telegram despatched.
But the solution soon followed. We learned that when Sigida came face to
face with the commandant she struck him a blow, saying, “That is for you
as commandant!” and our hero, despite the presence of the gendarmes,
took to his heels and fled, leaping out of the window as we had seen.
Sigida, afraid that Masyukov would try to hush up the affair, had
thereupon demanded that the occurrence should be telegraphed at once to
the proper authorities. She was counting on the usual procedure in such
a case; an officer receiving a personal injury from one of his charges
being generally removed from the place where such a thing had happened,
and the offender sentenced to death. Her calculations as to these
probable results of her action proved false, however; the poor lady had
offered her sacrifice in vain.

I must here pause to speak of other events, which, though not directly
bearing on these struggles at Kara, yet greatly influenced the minds of
those concerned in them. The year of which I speak, 1889, will never be
forgotten by those who were then in Siberia. The news of the sanguinary
scenes that took place in Yakutsk was told to the whole civilised world,
and everywhere aroused horror at the cruelty of the Tsar’s Government;
yet probably but few of my readers will recollect the particulars.

There were at that time interned in Yakutsk some young men and girls who
were to be deported still further northward, “by administrative
methods,” to those wretched forlorn hamlets that figure on the map of
Siberia as Verkhny-Kolymsk, Nijni-Kolymsk, Verchoyansk, and so on. Among
these young people, who of course belonged to the student class, there
were boys and girls under age, to whose charge even Russian law could
lay no crime.

The Vice-Governor, Ostàshkin, who was then in command of the province of
Yakutsk, had given orders that these exiles should be conveyed to their
appointed destinations in a manner that would have rendered the
hardships of the journey quite unnecessarily severe; and when the young
people learned this they made representations to the authorities,
pointing out the danger that threatened them of perishing by cold and
hunger on the way. They were told to come together to talk matters over,
and they accordingly assembled in a dwelling-house to await the arrival
of the chief of police; instead of whom, however, came an order to
betake themselves at once to the police office. They now felt convinced
that they were to be deported at once, without time for protest, and
they refused to obey; whereupon there arrived immediately a troop of
soldiers commanded by an officer, and a frightful scene began that
beggars all description. The soldiers clubbed the exiles with the butts
of their rifles, stabbed at them with bayonets, and fired on the
defenceless assembly. Six corpses were left on the spot, among them that
of a pregnant woman, and many were severely wounded. The wounded and
injured—numbering twenty-seven—were then thrust into prison; and a
court-martial was opened, wherein three persons were condemned to death
and executed in Yakutsk, and nineteen were sentenced to penal servitude
for life. That is briefly the history of the “Massacre of Yakutsk.”[104]

Footnote 104:

  The Yakutsk massacre has lately (April, 1903) been recalled to public
  memory by the arrest of the Russian revolutionist, Michael Gotz, in
  Italy, and the attempt of the Russian Government—fortunately
  frustrated—to obtain his extradition. Gotz was one of the youthful
  exiles at Yakutsk, and was severely wounded, but survived to be
  court-martialled and condemned to penal servitude in the mines for
  life. He and his comrades were subsequently amnestied, chiefly in
  consequence of the notoriety given to the affair by an account of it
  published by the _Times_ with indignant comments, which caused such
  feeling both at home and abroad that even the Russian Government was
  affected.—_Trans._

We in Kara received the news of these horrors just when our own
situation was becoming critical. Sympathy with the innocent victims and
anger against their oppressors were mingled with apprehensions for
ourselves; for we naturally thought, “If the Government can treat so
barbarously harmless people who are not convicts, what may be done to
us, ‘deprived’ as we are ‘of all rights,’ convicts in a prison whence
tidings need never penetrate to the outer world?”

After events justified these fears.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII
   OUR CELEBRATION OF THE CENTENARY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION—SERGIUS
                     BOBOHOV—THE END OF THE TRAGEDY



Among my recollections of the year 1889, one pleasant memory remains to
me—how we commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the storming of the
Bastille. While the French nation, amid fervent rejoicings, celebrated
the centenary of their great Revolution, a handful of convicts,
imprisoned by the Russian despot in a barren wilderness of the Far East,
took their share in the festival. Ours was truly but a modest
ceremonial—no banquet, no toasts, no speeches. Tea and a cake provided
at the common expense were all that we could afford; and our banqueting
hall was the prison-yard, whither all the tables from our cells were
carried for a public feast. There we sat, and thought of the great
triumph of the Revolution, and of its heroes—the spiritual heroes of the
civilised world.

“Will the day ever come when the people will demolish our Bastilles—the
Fortress of Peter and Paul, Schlüsselburg, the Citadel of Warsaw, and
all the other gaols in which Tsarism imprisons its foes?” we asked
ourselves; “and will any of us be still alive then?”

“The battle for freedom will have been fought and won by the beginning
of the twentieth century,” our optimists averred.

“Who knows if it will ever take place?” said the sceptics.

The subject was argued over and discussed up and down. Many who then
were full of hope now rest in their graves; others languish to this day
in Siberian deserts.

I return to the sorrowful events that were then happening in Kara. After
Sigida’s assault upon the commandant the women began their
hunger-strike, their third and most terrible. They adhered resolutely to
their decision; Masyukov must go, if it cost them their lives. For
sixteen days they abstained from food. Sigida, it was asserted, remained
fasting for twenty-two days, and when the prison doctor reported that he
could not answer for her life, the Governor sent an order that she was
to be fed artificially. Whether the doctor carried out that instruction
I do not know. A rumour came to us during those dreadful days that he
had had a scene with Maria Kovalèvskaya: he went—it was said—into her
cell one day, when she was lying on her bed, exhausted by hunger; and
she, supposing he had come to administer nourishment to her forcibly,
struck him in the face. The doctor, a rather humane kind of man, seems
to have looked on this simply as the act of an invalid not properly
responsible for her actions; he told her she was doing him an
injustice,—that he was not going to touch her,—whereupon she begged his
pardon. He said to his friends afterwards that he had never seen a woman
with such strength of character, so spirited and eloquent as she.

When it became evident that these women, who were already at death’s
door, would never give in, the higher authorities consented to the
following compromise: Masyukov could not be removed, lest it should be
said that the prisoners had forced such a step on them, but the Governor
should arrange that Sigida, Kalyùshnaya, Kovalèvskaya, and Smirnitskaya
should no longer be under the commandant, but should be removed to the
female criminals’ prison, and treated in future as ordinary convicts.
Our comrades agreed to this, and ceased their hunger-strike. But the
martyrdom of the unhappy women was not yet accomplished, worse
sufferings still were in store for them.

In the second half of October Masyukov, who had kept in the background
since Sigida’s encounter with him, entered our prison one day surrounded
(as had never before been the case) by a guard of armed soldiers. The
man looked thoroughly shaken and upset; he sheltered himself behind the
soldiers, and told us to come and listen to an order from the
Governor-General. When we had all assembled in the corridor he read
aloud with trembling voice a document saying that in consequence of the
disturbances among the political prisoners in Kara the Governor-General
warned us that on any repetition of such occurrences the most stringent
measures would be taken against us, and that recourse would even be had
to corporal punishment.

Now the “politicals” had had much to bear, but had never been legally
liable to personal chastisement; the mere threat was held by many as an
insult only to be wiped out with blood, and this view was voiced by
Sergius Bobohov. I have not hitherto mentioned this excellent man; for
the part that he played, and that gives him a place in the annals of the
Russian revolutionary movement, only began with this challenge from the
Siberian satrap.

Sergius Bobohov was born in the Volga district. He had studied in the
Petersburg veterinary college, and had been expelled towards the end of
the sixties for taking part in a riot of the students directed against
Professor Zion, an affair that made a good deal of stir at the time. He
was subsequently banished by “administrative methods” to the government
of Archangel, and in 1878 attempted unsuccessfully to escape. When he
was recaptured he fired a revolver-shot in the air, hoping that this
would cause him to be brought to trial, and that so he might have an
opportunity of denouncing the arbitrariness of the so-called
“administrative methods.” For this shot he was sentenced to twenty
years’ “katorga,” and brought to Kara in 1879.

During the nearly thirty years of my intercourse with Russian
revolutionists I have met many remarkable men, but none that lived on a
higher moral plane than Bobohov. Genuine sincerity, seriousness of
purpose, and boundless devotion to his ideal were his leading
characteristics. He was the most modest of men, but when the honour of a
revolutionist was at stake, or if it were a question of duty, he would
undergo a transformation and become a fiery and inspired prophet. There
was never the slightest contradiction between his words and his deeds,
he was the most logical and consistent of men, and it was no wonder if
he won universal respect and esteem in Kara, even though everyone did
not share his opinions.

Bobohov was but a youth when I entered the prison, and the ideas that he
had imbibed were the then prevalent, rather anarchistical views of the
Buntari, to which he remained faithful all his life. Imprisonment and
exile are apt to exercise a conservative influence on the mind; the
opinions with which one enters prison tend to become stereotyped.
Bobohov was well read, and interested himself keenly in all questions of
social politics; but it happened with him as with many other intelligent
men among us—he gathered from every book he read only what tended to
strengthen anew the opinions he already held. He took great interest in
the Social-Democratic theory, for instance, but his way of thinking
prevented him from properly grasping its argument, and he was
continually combating those who were attracted by it. He and I were
never room-mates, but when walking in the yard I used to have endless
discussions with him on this subject, and he always showed himself an
exemplary debater, attentive, restrained, never ill-tempered or
personal.

Bobohov took the threat of flogging more keenly to heart than any of the
others. His idea, which he at once did his best to promulgate, was that
we should immediately send a telegram to the Minister of the Interior,
declaring that if the threat of the Governor-General were not withdrawn
we would all commit suicide; and he further demanded of us that if the
minister had not yielded within a certain time, we should each in our
turn, to be decided by lot, take measures to put an end to our lives.

I had an opportunity one day of speaking to him about this proposal, and
I tried to convince him of its impracticability, especially arguing
against his impossible notion of casting lots, which would make suicide
cease to be a voluntary act, as those who had at first agreed might feel
in honour bound to cast away their lives, even if when the time came
they had changed their minds. Moreover, I reasoned, if we were to
announce such an intention to the authorities, they would at once take
steps to prevent its being carried out.

Bobohov passionately disputed my arguments. “I cling to life as much as
any other man,” he said. “If I am ready to face death as a means of
protest, it would only be if I could reckon on others to follow my
example. Without casting lots—that is, without making it a duty—there
would be no sense in the undertaking; the others might draw back after I
had taken my life, and my sacrifice would have been in vain, for the
effect on the Government would be lacking.”

The impression I gathered from the whole of this conversation with
Bobohov was that life was really dear to him, and that he would not
commit suicide, so that my worst fears were quieted. But his fate and
that of some others of our comrades was already sealed.

Rumours reached us directly after this that, by order of the
Governor-General, Nadyèshda Sigida was to be subjected to corporal
punishment for assaulting the commandant. We took this rumour as quite
improbable. In all the history of our movement there had been no single
instance of a woman being punished in such a manner; and among the men
even, Bogolyùbov alone (sentenced to fifteen years’ “katorga” on account
of the demonstration in the Kazan Square of December, 1876) had suffered
this indignity. And since, to avenge him, Vera Zassoùlitch had fired at
and wounded Trèpov, and had been acquitted by a jury, in all the twelve
years that had elapsed no attempt had ever again been made to inflict
corporal chastisement on a political prisoner. Certainly it had been
repeatedly threatened in cases of attempted escape; but the threat had
never been carried out, only lengthened terms of imprisonment imposed.
It seemed therefore impossible to believe that such treatment of a woman
should be meditated. On the other hand, in view of the Yakutsk tragedy,
the victims in which had been mere boys and girls, we could not but fear
that the Government of the “peace-loving Tsar” would shrink from no
barbarity.

Terrible days followed for us, but our uncertainty was not of long
duration. In the beginning of November we learned that the
Governor-General’s order had actually been executed.

I find it hardly possible to describe our state of mind. It was not
depression that we felt, but deep agitation and gloomy resolution.
Externally we strove to preserve calm, lest the gendarmes should become
suspicious.

We soon heard that Sigida had died immediately after the infliction of
the punishment. Some reports said that she had succumbed to a nervous
seizure; others that she had poisoned herself. And at the same time we
were informed that Kovalèvskaya, Kalyùshnaya, and Smirnitskaya had taken
poison, and had died in the prison infirmary.

On hearing these tidings many of our number silently resolved, without
any discussion or consultation, to follow the example of the women. They
got poison from outside, and determined to take it after roll-call one
evening. No one asked now who was going to join in the act, but each man
who had made up his mind to it possessed himself of a portion of the
opium that lay on the table in every room.

Bobohov, during these days, had appeared calm, serious, and taciturn as
ever, behaving as though nothing unusual lay before him. Kalyùshny, too,
seemed long ago to have taken an unalterable decision. This decision had
brought them together, and the two were now close friends.

Seventeen men—seventeen out of the nine-and-thirty that made up our
number—had resolved to put an end to their lives. On the appointed day,
after the evening rounds, singing was heard in the “Yakutsk room,” where
were Bobohov and Kalyùshny and the greater number of the others who had
also determined to die, though there were some in every room—two in
ours. This singing was the signal to them all. Those who were to die
then took leave of their comrades and swallowed the poison.

Shortly after, they began to feel ill, with headache and great
weariness, and they lay down on their beds to sleep, not expecting to
wake again.

I had taken no poison, but when this general suicide began it seemed as
though it would be easier to kill oneself than to witness the deed. How
strong and deep was the impression made on me may be gathered from the
fact that late in the night I began to suffer from severe headache and
general uneasiness, and the doctor said afterwards that I had exhibited
all the symptoms of poisoning.

However, our comrades had not effected their purpose. The opium was
bad—either old or adulterated—and was not deadly; the unhappy men awoke
next morning in great pain and distress. But the frustration of their
design did not in most cases weaken their resolution. Three only
abandoned the attempt; the others determined to take a more potent
drug—morphia.

Next evening the farewell scenes were repeated. The nerves of the
survivors were still further tortured; our position was indeed cruel.
The morphia also proved bad; most of those who had swallowed it were
very ill, but eventually recovered. Bobohov and Kalyùshny, however,
having each taken a treble dose, speedily became unconscious. In the
night Bobohov awakened yet once again. He heard Kalyùshny’s throat
rattle, and tried to rouse him, embracing him, covering his face with
kisses. When he saw that his friend would never wake more, he seized a
whole handful of opium, swallowed it, and lying down beside Kalyùshny,
closed his eyes for ever.

When the inspector and the gendarmes made their rounds the next morning,
they found the two insensible. The doctor was fetched, and pronounced
that the death-agony had already begun; Kalyùshny expired that evening,
Bobohov not until the following morning. The corpses were removed to the
mortuary, and were subsequently buried side by side with those of the
four dead women.

[Illustration:

  GRAVEYARD OF POLITICAL PRISONERS AT KARA
    To face page 290
]



                              CHAPTER XXIX
 DISQUIETING REPORTS—VISIT OF THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL—RELEASE FROM PRISON


The suicide of our two comrades brought visits from various officials to
the prison; first came the Public Prosecutor, then the Colonel of
Gendarmerie, finally the Governor of the district. We, however,
absolutely declined to enter into conversation with them, not even
answering direct questions; and they left without eliciting a syllable
from any of us.

No special measures were taken; everything remained as of old. Only we
ourselves were as though transformed by the tragic events that had taken
place; a heavy weight seemed to oppress us, our songs were hushed,
jesting was at an end, we had forgotten how to laugh; games too were
stopped, even chess found no devotee. Most of us still suffered acutely
from shaken nerves.

So passed the winter of 1889-1890. The silence of the higher authorities
was a bad sign, and we felt certain that in one way or another reprisals
would be taken for the past events in Kara. The order rendering us
liable to the punishment of flogging still held good, spite of the six
martyrs who had gone to their death. Some of our number were terribly
agitated about this during the early part of the year, and again two of
our comrades determined to take their own lives in order to demonstrate
to the Government that the political prisoners had not abandoned their
protest against the threat. But the rest of us persuaded them to forego
their intention until the commandant (Masyukov still held this post)
should have made some reply to our demands. This reply was to the effect
that fresh orders had been received whereby corporal punishment for
women was entirely done away with; and men were only liable to it if
they did not belong to the privileged classes, and had not been educated
in a gymnasium. The sacrifices had been in so far vain that the system
remained; but it could be reckoned on with comparative certainty that
the authorities would not again resort to such measures. So far as we
were concerned we were now aware that the rules for our treatment were
in any case about to be changed, and as a matter of fact this was soon
the case.

For some years a report had been current that a new prison was to be
built at Akatoui—a place distant some three-hundred versts from
Kara,—and that the Kara prisoners would all be transported thither. It
was also rumoured that in this new prison a system was to be instituted
such as had never hitherto obtained in Russia.

Meanwhile our numbers had been gradually diminishing. A good many of my
companions had in course of time been allowed to leave, and were living
in the penal settlement; and the number of those who had begged for
pardon, and who in consequence had been liberated as “colonists,” was
not small. Among others my friend Jacob Stefanòvitch should have been
released in the spring of 1890, when his term in prison ended; but he
preferred to remain with us until the question of our removal to Akatoui
was settled, and found various pretexts for getting his release
deferred.

During the last year we had had no new arrivals from Russia; because
since the end of the eighties the Government had brought no
revolutionists to trial, so that no sentences of penal servitude had
been passed. Instead, a system had been introduced of sending political
offenders for many years of banishment to Siberia, or to the island of
Saghalien, by “administrative methods.” By the summer of 1890 most of us
who still remained in our prison were already formally entitled to leave
for the penal settlement, and were only unjustly detained because the
number of political settlers there was limited to fifteen. I myself
should have obtained release in the course of that year, but I had never
expected that this would really be. From my first arrival in Kara I had
resigned myself to the thought of spending my entire term of punishment
in the prison; in my dreams of the future I never thought about the
penal settlement, but only looked forward to the distant date when, at
the expiration of my sentence, I should be allowed to live somewhere as
a Siberian exile.[105] That life was depicted for me in anything but
rosy colours by the letters of comrades; nevertheless I awaited with
impatience the far-off day of release. Like the hero of Dostoiëvsky’s
_Memoirs from the Dead-house_, I often counted up how many years,
months, weeks, hours, I had still to spend in prison. How wearily the
time passed! The fewer grew the remaining years, the slower went the
days, and freedom seemed further off than ever.

Footnote 105:

  English readers might suppose that, on the expiration of their
  sentences, political convicts would be set free unconditionally. But
  this is not the case. According to the Russian Penal Code, Art. 25,
  “The results of the sentence to hard labour are: the abolition of all
  family and property rights; and, at the expiration of the sentence,
  settlement in Siberia _for life_.” In practice, however, “politicals”
  (especially those having influential friends) are occasionally, after
  the lapse of years, allowed to return to European Russia. There they
  must live under police supervision; and though they may choose their
  place of abode, it must be a town; but not the capital nor any of the
  more important or manufacturing towns.—_Trans._

Prison life had affected me considerably in the course of time. My
nerves were shattered, and I felt as though borne down by a heavy
burden; my brain worked with difficulty, and my general condition was
one of apathy and lassitude. The future looked black to me; I was sick
of life.

In August, 1890, reports assumed a more definite form, and we learned
with certainty that we were shortly to be taken to Akatoui. This news
excited us much, and plans for our arrangements in the new prison became
the chief subject of conversation. It seemed incredible to us that the
cruelty of the Government could go so far as to increase the hardships
of prisoners who for the most part had already been ten years or more in
captivity, and had suffered so much; yet we heard that the régime at
Akatoui was to be unusually severe.

One day we learned that the Governor-General had come to Kara. We were
ordered to assemble in the yard, and Baron Korf soon made his
appearance, followed by a large suite, and guarded by gendarmes and
soldiers. He informed us that an order had been sent from Petersburg for
our removal to Akatoui. The regulations of the new prison provided that
political convicts should henceforward be in exactly the same position
as the ordinary criminals: we should share rooms with them, be fed in
the same way. “In short,” concluded the Governor-General, “in no respect
will any difference be made between the two classes of prisoners, and
these instructions will be carried out to the letter.”

The sentences flowed smoothly from his lips, yet Baron Korf did not look
altogether pleased with his mission. Upon us his words had a crushing
effect; our fears were confirmed and worse, for no one had dreamt of our
being placed on the footing of ordinary criminals. Above all, this meant
that we should be liable to flogging, as they were.

We stood for a time speechless; partly because we were staggered by what
we had heard, and partly because we had no desire to enter into
conversation with the man who had degraded himself by ordering the
corporal chastisement of a woman. To the repeated question whether we
had anything to say, no answer was given; but Baron Korf was apparently
very anxious to get into discussion with us, and the situation became
rather uncomfortable. At last, as the Governor-General was preparing to
leave, Mirsky suddenly broke the silence. With formal politeness he
inquired how the words “in every respect like the ordinary criminals”
were to be construed, and laid stress on the fact that ordinary convicts
were allowed to enter the penal settlement without any limitation of
their numbers. Visibly gratified that at last he was addressed, Baron
Korf hastened to explain that in this particular also there would
henceforward be no difference made between the two classes. An animated
conversation now ensued between him and Mirsky, in which Yakubòvitch
soon joined. With excited gestures the latter began declaring that they
might treat us in all other respects like criminals, but we would never
endure it if one of us were flogged.

The Governor-General attempted to restore peace: we ought not to be
alarmed, he said; none of us had hitherto been punished in that way, and
he hoped it might never happen in the future.

I had not intended to take part in the conversation, but when I heard
those words, involuntarily I cried out, “And Sigida? A woman!”

This was a subject full of the most ominous possibilities. Baron Korf
began speaking eagerly; he had apparently been waiting for the chance of
such an allusion, and he seemed to feel a need of justifying himself.

“What were we to do?” he cried. “Must we be insulted, and keep silence?
It was not we who first resorted to personal violence.”

“You could have tried her,” I answered; “but you had no right to torture
her.”

The Governor-General stammered out a few sentences, the drift of which
was that past events were irretrievable, and that he could not be held
responsible for what had occurred in Kara.

It was a painful episode, and when Baron Korf had gone we returned to
our cells in deep depression, feeling insulted and humiliated by the
decision that we had just heard.

The day was to bring yet another excitement. The head warder, a certain
Pohorukov, made the rounds as usual, accompanied by some gendarmes, and
called the roll in the various rooms. I was in the corridor, meaning to
go into my room along with the gendarmes; and Fomitchov also was in the
corridor, standing by the door of his room. As one of the gendarmes was
unlocking that door I suddenly saw something hurtle through the air, the
sound of a frightful blow followed, and the head warder fell to the
ground. The gendarmes instantly fled in panic, leaving the man lying
unconscious on the floor; but I ran after them, calling to them not to
be frightened, that they must come and help their injured companion. It
was, however, some time before they could be persuaded to return.

I ought to mention here that Golubtsòv, the clever and tactful captain
of the guard, of whom I spoke before, no longer held that post. When our
hunger-strikes began he got himself transferred to the section for
ordinary criminals, for he saw that the dispute with Masyukov was
certain to cause trouble. The new captain of the guard was a stupid,
cowardly fellow. When he at last recovered from his fright I managed to
induce him to unlock the door of the room where Prybylyev, our
physician, was, and the latter then had the wounded man carried into our
“hospital” room, where he administered first aid. The head warder had
received a severe blow on the head from some hard object, he was still
unconscious, and it was difficult to know at first whether the wound was
dangerous or not.

As the commandant was away in attendance on the Governor-General and
would not return till next day, and as the head warder was _hors de
combat_, we prisoners had to take command, the gendarmes, who had quite
lost their heads, obeying our orders without hesitation. The first thing
was to get the injured man conveyed to his own house, and Prybylyev had
him carried thither on the bed as he was. Then something must be done
with Fomitchov, who himself insisted on being removed from among us; so
we made the captain of the guard install him in one of the single cells
in the adjacent building.

Fomitchov’s act seemed absolutely inexplicable, the head warder being a
quite insignificant, ordinary kind of person, about whom we had never
troubled ourselves; and the only explanation that suggested itself to us
was that, excited by the news we had just heard, Fomitchov must have
suddenly lost his reason. For, being, as I have related, an eccentric
devoted to monarchism, Fomitchov was the last person from whom such an
attack on an official could have been expected, and the theory of
madness seemed the more likely, as he had on one or two former occasions
shown a tendency to paroxysms of rage. We were mistaken, however; next
day he himself gave us the following elucidation of his motives.

Some months before, when Fomitchov was in the prison hospital, where
Pohorukov was then steward, he had been witness of a shocking scene.
Some ordinary criminals had been cleaning out the yard, and the steward,
declaring that the work had not been done thoroughly enough, at once
ordered the men to be flogged. The punishment was instantly
administered, right under the window of Fomitchov’s cell. Indignation
and disgust had naturally been kindled in Fomitchov’s bosom, and
abhorrence of the man who could perpetrate such a barbarity; but it
would hardly have occurred to him to attack Pohorukov without further
cause. Now, however, when the Governor-General had just declared that we
were to be put on an equal footing with the ordinary criminals as
regards flogging, Fomitchov remembered how people could be subjected to
that barbarous punishment by any stupid official for the merest trifle;
he wished, therefore, he said, to avenge the deed he had witnessed, and
at the same time to show what would be our proceedings if anyone ever
attempted to apply such treatment to us.

Naturally we feared that the Governor-General might suppose Fomitchov’s
assault to have been an act resolved on by us all, and committed with
our sanction, in which case reprisals could not fail to be made; we
lived, therefore, for several days in a state of excited expectancy. The
doctor, meanwhile, pronounced Fomitchov to be suffering from a passing
disturbance of mind, caused by learning of the new decree; fortunately,
too, the injured man’s wound proved not to be mortal, and he recovered,
only losing the hearing of one ear. The Governor-General was, I suppose,
relieved to find that no more serious consequences had followed his
announcement of the new order, and that may have made him take a lenient
view of the case. Fomitchov was eventually placed under observation in
the prison hospital, and his term of imprisonment was lengthened by two
years as the penalty of his offence.

From the statement made by the Governor-General in response to Mirsky,
we might conclude that none of us who had become entitled to leave
prison for the penal settlement (that is, not less than twenty men)
would be taken to Akatoui, and that therefore we should escape the
severe régime there; but I personally could not believe that the hour of
my release from prison was so near. My old experience at Freiburg had
taught me how easily hopes may be falsified, and I repelled with energy
every alluring vision, preferring rather to paint gloomy pictures of a
future in prison among the criminal horde; and although the news soon
reached us that we were indeed to be liberated—that a list had already
been prepared of those persons who were entitled to leave—I could not
trust myself to credit it. One day, however, quite unexpectedly, three
of our number were released from prison—Luri, Rechnyevsky, and
Souhòmlin, whose wives had followed them to Kara. Shortly after,
Masyukov, accompanied by his newly appointed successor, Tominin,
appeared one day in our prison, and informed us that seventeen others
were to be liberated, my name figuring in the list.[106]

We packed up our belongings and took leave of our comrades, who were to
go to Akatoui the next day; and the thought that our friends had before
them such an increase of hardships damped our pleasure in attaining the
long-desired semi-freedom. Beforehand we had pictured quite otherwise
the joy of release and the scene of farewell. Now that the hour had
struck it was hardly joy that I felt; on the contrary, I seemed almost
to be quitting a home that had become dear to me. Not with heads
uplifted, but sad and depressed, we bent our steps towards the door. The
bolt flew back, and a larger company of men than had ever been seen to
do so before on such an occasion left the prison for good. A trammelled
and partial liberty lay before us; still, liberty it was.

Footnote 106:

  Among the others to be released with me were Martinovsky, Prybylyev,
  Mirsky, Starinkièvitch, Zlatopòlsky, Mihaïlov, Fomin, and Kohn; all of
  whom have figured already in my narrative. Stefanòvitch also was of
  the party, but was only destined to remain with us for two months,
  after which he was sent to be interned in Yakutsk. He has spent the
  thirteen years since we parted in various places of Siberian exile.



                              CHAPTER XXX
                   NIZHNAYA-KARA—NEW LIFE—STOLEN GOLD


Nizhnaya-Kara, where the penal settlement was situated, had an
appearance quite peculiar to itself. The dwelling-houses were at some
minutes’ distance from the prison, on a hill-slope descending to the
banks of the River Kara, whose bed contains gold-dust and in summer
becomes almost completely dry. The place had nothing of the Russian
village about it, either in the style of its buildings or its
inhabitants. The latter were mostly convicts, both men and women;
besides whom there were a few peasants, descendants of former convicts,
or of the crown colonists who had been settled here as drudges in the
gold-workings. Then there was an infantry battalion of Cossacks
stationed here for the purpose of keeping guard over the prison; and
finally there were numerous prison officials and Cossack officers.

The mixed nature of the population was evidenced by the variety of their
dwellings. Ordinary criminals who were unmarried lived in barracks,
where the Cossacks also were housed; the officers and prison officials
inhabited neat little houses belonging to the State; and the
“politicals” and married criminals lived in wretched tumbledown hovels.
Besides the classes already enumerated, there were three tradesmen in
Kara, each of whom kept a small general shop.

[Illustration:

  THE PENAL SETTLEMENT, KARA
    To face page 300
]

At first we had great difficulty in finding accommodation; for of course
it was not possible at once to run up habitations for twenty men, all
let out of prison at the same time, and we were obliged to put up with
lodgings where a number of persons were crowded into each single room.
In other ways too there was much inconvenience and discomfort during
those early days of freedom; but on the whole our change was distinctly
for the better. Merely to have got rid of the detested turnkeys was a
joy; we rejoiced also at being free from the barbarous head-shaving, and
we might once more wear our own clothes. We were permitted to take up
some handicraft, but the exercise of the so-called “liberal professions”
was forbidden us. The regulations as to our correspondence were also
less severe; we could write letters to our relations, and a number of
newspapers that were prohibited in prison were allowed here. But above
all, we might now go about freely at all hours, and wander in the
neighbourhood of the village to our heart’s content.

On our exit from prison we were placed under the supervision of the
staff controlling the ordinary convicts, and shortly after the
gendarmerie disappeared from Kara for good. Every morning a prison
inspector made the rounds of the settlement with his book, which we had
to sign, so that the authorities might be satisfied that none of us were
missing. We were not allowed to go beyond ten versts from the village
without a special permission from the superintendent—that same Pohorukov
whom Fomitchov had assailed.

Our material condition was considerably more comfortable now than it had
been in prison. Besides the means of livelihood that had hitherto been
available—rations from the State and money sent from home—many of us
could now earn something by private exertion. We still preserved our
organisation as when in prison, with certain modifications rendered
necessary by our new circumstances; we still formed an _artèl_ and
elected a _stàrosta_ to arrange the details of our common life. Of
course, our domestic economy had considerably extended its sphere; we
had now much to think of that had not entered into our consideration
before.

Autumn brought a good deal of heavy labour for all able-bodied men.
Trees had to be felled and carted to serve as winter fuel, and then the
wood had to be chopped small for use. In the winter the hay needed for
our cattle had to be brought in, for we possessed six cows and four
horses. In the spring we looked after our gardens, and in the summer we
made hay in the meadows. Cooking was still managed in common, groups of
us carrying it out in turn. There was always plenty for all hands to do,
and the work was often very hard. I myself found the labour of the
winter season extremely severe. It meant rising at three or four o’clock
in the morning to harness the horses—a task difficult and disagreeable
enough always in the Siberian cold, and a perfect misery in the small
hours of the morning—and then driving the sledge ten or twelve versts,
loading it with hay, and finishing our job so as to return home by
nightfall. Two of us at a time had to load and fetch home four great
waggon-loads of hay. Naturally we were very clumsy over the unaccustomed
labour, and it happened often enough that ropes would break and the hay
get scattered, or that the horses would stray away. In our heavy
sheepskins and felt boots we had each as much as we could manage in
conducting two heavy waggons on the homeward journey; and despite the
extreme cold we used often to be bathed in perspiration.

Yet the hard physical work had a charm of its own. It gave one a quite
peculiar sensation to be driving along in the dark over the smooth,
white surface of the snow, on and on into the depths of the forest. The
profoundest silence reigned everywhere, broken by the crackling of the
snow under the horses’ hoofs and the runners of the sledge, and
sometimes by the distant howling of a wolf. Myriads of stars sparkled in
the firmament, and not a trace of man’s existence was anywhere to be
seen. But the cruel cold, increasing in severity towards dawn, would
soon drive away all poetical ideas. The frost penetrated our sheepskins,
and we felt as if we were being pricked all over our bodies with sharp
needles. Often the brandy in our flasks would freeze, and although we
took all possible precautions, the glass would split and the spirit be
left in a frozen lump.

[Illustration:

  COTTAGE SHARED BY “POLITICALS” IN THE KARA PENAL SETTLEMENT
    To face page 302
]

These expeditions, fortunately, were not of very frequent occurrence,
the turn of each man coming only about three or four times in the course
of the winter. The fetching of wood, on the other hand, was continually
necessary; but although this, too, entailed considerable exertion, it
was not nearly so serious an undertaking.

After a spell of hard work it used to feel luxury indeed to be back in
one’s own house. The little peasant hut in which I dwelt seemed a
perfect palace, and I thought it most comfortable; though any spoilt
child of civilisation would have seen much to be improved in it. Nearly
a third of its space was taken up by a great Russian stove, which
unfortunately often smoked; doors and windows shut very imperfectly; and
in both floor and walls there were great cracks, through which the wind
whistled everlastingly, despite my continual efforts to stop them up.
But all these were petty details that could not detract from the charm
of having a “home” of one’s own. Only those who have themselves
undergone the martyrdom of never being alone for an instant, and of
feeling always conscious that the eyes of others are upon one’s every
action, can properly realise that charm. To have the enjoyment of that
independent solitude it was worth while putting up with a number of
small inconveniences that might to a certain extent have been avoided by
a _ménage-à-deux_. It was only an occasional pair of bosom friends who
chose to live in that fashion. Most of us much preferred to undertake
singly the duties of housekeeping—stoking the stove, carrying water,
cleaning, etc.

My hut, which, when I took possession of it, was in a state of extreme
disrepair, was the property of the State. With my own hands I mended it
up as well as I could. It stood a little apart from the other dwellings,
at the end of the village, on the slope of a hill, and close to the
little cemetery. At first I used to feel some anxiety over the
insecurity of the door; a push from without was sufficient to open it,
and this was hardly agreeable when one knew that round about dwelt all
sorts of criminals—some very queer customers among them. However, I soon
found that I had no cause to fear anything from these people; and when I
returned home late at night by lonely ways and bypaths, I felt as safe
as in the best-policed town.

One of the most notorious criminals in the settlement was a man named
Lissenko. It was reported of him that in one of his robberies he had
killed a whole family—men, women, and children. He was about sixty when
I first knew him, and still had the strength of a giant. He struck me as
being crafty, cunning, and reckless, but not a malicious kind of fellow,
and he was extremely pious withal. No one who knew him personally could
easily believe him to have murdered innocent children. I was curious to
learn from himself how much truth there was in the reports that were
current concerning him, and I found an opportunity one day of
questioning him on the subject.

“Yes, of course it’s true,” said he. “What about it?”

“But how could you have the heart to kill a child?” a friend of mine
asked him.

“Oh, I cried all the time I was doing it, but still I killed them,” was
the answer. “It was just God’s will. If He had not willed it I should
not have been able to commit the murder; I should have been struck down
myself. So it was really God who made me do it.”

My friend (from whom Lissenko seemed to stand a good deal) then asked—

“Well, and would you murder me, if you met me in a safe place?”

“If I knew you had a lot of money about you I should certainly wring
your neck,” said the man, with cheerful frankness. “But there! one
doesn’t kill without some good reason!”

Lissenko was at that time carrying on a very risky illegal trade: he was
a receiver of “stolen gold,” and smuggled spirits. I must explain that
gold could be found in considerable quantities in the neighbourhood and
worked with the greatest ease. Equipped with a shovel and a wooden
vessel for washing, men and women repaired to the River Kara and other
neighbouring streams, and could without difficulty get gold-dust to the
value of one or two roubles in a single day. Though strictly prohibited
by the Government, this private search for gold is practised almost
openly. Those who do not themselves look for gold yet traffic in it; and
practically the entire population, except the political prisoners, is
engaged in the illicit trade. Nobody—one or two really honest officials
perhaps excepted—makes any scruple about infringing the law; thousands
make their livelihood in this way, and many even grow rich. I knew whole
families, some members of which went off as regularly every day on the
quest as though it were the most lawful affair in the world. No one—not
even officials—found anything to protest against in this breaking of the
law; on the contrary, everyone in the place, except those few persons
whose interests were concerned on the other side, looked upon it as
quite natural that the gold-seekers should make the most of their
labour, and take the treasure that the soil offered. No attention was
paid to the arbitrary decree which declared that treasure to be the
Tsar’s private property—or, as it was officially expressed, “the
property of His Majesty’s Cabinet”; and notwithstanding the heavy
expense incurred by the responsible authorities to protect the
gold-fields of the district, far more gold is obtained by unlawful than
by lawful means. The receivers of the stolen treasure, and other
middlemen, can always find a way to convey their merchandise over the
border into China, where it fetches a far higher price than that given
by “the Cabinet of His Majesty.”

Meanwhile all authorities agree that the illicit gold-finders have
conferred immeasurable benefit on the country. They are the true
pioneers, who, wandering about the “Taiga” or virgin forests in all
directions, seeking deposits of precious metals, are to be thanked for
the discovery of numberless gold-fields—among them some of the most
prolific of all. Certainly little enough profit falls to the share of
the pirates themselves; most of them remain poor and needy all their
lives, hardly earning their daily bread; and many of them become slaves
of the middlemen. It would take me too long to describe further the
lives and doings of these gold pirates; suffice it to say that they
inhabit a curiously interesting little world of their own—a state within
the state—with its own strictly administered laws and peculiar customs.



                              CHAPTER XXXI
  THE TOUR OF THE HEIR-APPARENT THROUGH SIBERIA—OUR LIFE IN THE PENAL
                    SETTLEMENT—AN INCENSED OFFICIAL


Time passed by much faster in the settlement than in the prison. Busy
with the necessary work for establishing our little community, we
scarcely noticed the passing of autumn and winter. I can never forget
the spring of 1891—the first I enjoyed after the long years of
imprisonment; moreover, that spring brought quite unexpected hopes of
favours soon to be granted us. A report reached us that the Tsar
Alexander III. had decided to issue a manifesto to celebrate the
treading of Siberian soil by the Heir-Apparent. This manifesto, it was
said, would bring pardon to all convicts, and not even the “politicals”
were to be excluded. The official telegram about this—obscurely worded
though it was—could not fail to awaken in us hopes of at any rate
increased liberty. If the news were correct, it was to be concluded that
many of us would shortly be treated as “exiles,” and no longer as
convicts. This would improve our situation in a greater or lesser degree
according to the locality whither we should be banished. “Politicals”
are generally sent to the province of Yakutsk, where conditions of life
are in many respects no better than in the settlement at Kara. It must
be remembered that Yakutsk is a very sparsely populated province, and
lies further from the civilised world than the Transbaikalian province
in which Kara is situated. The climate is worse than that of Kara, the
winter longer; and in other ways, too, our comrades there were worse off
than we. Their post arrived less often than ours, and in many parts of
the Yakutsk government “luxuries,” such as tea, sugar, and petroleum,
are often not to be procured at all. Even stale black bread is sometimes
a rarity, costing twelve to fifteen roubles the pood,[107] and is
regarded as a delicacy only to be set before an honoured guest. The
chief, if not the exclusive, food of the natives consists of fish and
meat. The dwellings, too, are worse than the wooden huts of Kara, being
simply “yurtas,” _i.e._ tent-shaped hovels such as the natives live in,
built of rough logs, the interstices between which are filled up with
earth and turf. Yet most of us were ready to go to these inhospitable
regions, for there was always the chance, when once one was numbered in
the category of “exiles,” that in time one might be sent to a more
advantageous district. Above all, there was greater freedom; for though
a place of residence is appointed for each exile, yet they may travel
about in the surrounding country for considerable distances. There are
more opportunities, too, of seeing people; new additions are always
being made to the numbers of the “administrative” exiles in every
province, and from them one learns what is going on at home; while, on
the other hand, nobody fresh was sent to the penal settlement at Kara
during the whole time that I was there. Finally, the exiles in Yakutsk
had the prospect of yet another step in advance—they might gain
permission to enrol themselves in the peasant class, and in that way win
even greater facility of movement within the borders of Siberia. Things
do not move very fast, and even if all goes well this favour may only be
obtained after ten years’ exile; but one learns patience in Siberia, and
many a one will let his thoughts dwell on that distant future: “Ten
years! then perhaps there will be a manifesto; and in fifteen or twenty
years may come the great event—return to one’s home!”

Footnote 107:

  About 8½_d._ to 10½_d._ the English pound, a pood being equal to
  36.1127 lbs. avoirdupois, and a rouble to about 2_s._ 1_d._—_Trans._

[Illustration:

  KARA PRISONERS AT WORK
    To face page 308
]

I confess that I myself indulged in such hopes, though I knew but too
well how deceptive these “favours” of the Tsar might be. To the
Coronation manifesto there had been attached numberless limitations and
exceptions, and it was not to be expected that this time the pardon of
which we had been hearing rumours would be extended to everyone. “But
who knows? They have let me out of prison at last; perhaps now I shall
be made an exile, unlikely though it seems!” Hope and fear alternated,
and optimism gained the upper hand.

While in the Petersburg government-offices the question had to be
settled as to carrying out the proclamation—who was to benefit by it,
and who must be excluded from its operation—the authorities in Siberia
had another care upon them: how to avert all danger from the path of the
Heir-Apparent, as he journeyed through a land where dwelt so many
embittered victims of Tsarism. The gentlemen of the official world
solved this problem eventually in a simple fashion: all along the
Prince’s route we (busy with our hopes of freedom!) were to be locked up
for the time being; and though Kara was a good fifty versts distant from
the high-road by which the journey of state was made, we were shut up in
prison the day before the Cesarèvitch[108] passed, and only set free
again a day after he had got safely through our neighbourhood.

Footnote 108:

  A familiar form of transliteration is employed here, but more correct
  would be Tsesarèvitch.—_Trans._

For long afterwards we awaited with the greatest excitement the advent
of the post every week or ten days, always hoping that some decision as
to the scope of the manifesto would arrive. But government departments
take their time; those who amused themselves with thoughts of the Tsar’s
grace had still to endure uncertainty as best they could. A whole year
elapsed before we received the long-expected news, and then it was
disappointing enough; nearly half the inhabitants of the Kara penal
settlement were excepted from the operation of the manifesto, the rest
had but a very short curtailment of their sentences. I was among those
who got nothing at all, and was obliged to reconcile myself to the
thought of another four years in Kara. It was bitter to have one’s hopes
thus destroyed.

It was the more bitter that our first joy over release from prison had
soon worn off, and life in the settlement had now become almost as
irksome as the life in prison had been. Our days seemed as monotonous
and empty as ever; and while in prison one had been constrained to
accept the unalleviated barrenness of life, here in the settlement one
felt the tug of the chain at every turn, and chafed at it. There we had
known from the first that all reasonable and profitable activity was
denied us, that we were condemned to an uninteresting and aimless
existence; and under such conditions one’s mental alertness becomes
dulled—almost atrophied. In the settlement, on the contrary, it was
quite otherwise; here we were in the midst of life again, the state of
lethargy that had reigned in the prison passed away; and although the
pulse of life could hardly be said to beat high, yet we could see people
exerting themselves, undertaking enterprises, pursuing their various
interests, fighting with difficulties and dangers. We ourselves the
while were restricted to the work of our narrow household economy; work
which naturally could not satisfy our aspirations. Most of us yearned to
set our powers to work—to do something that should call forth all our
energies and capabilities, not merely to chop wood and make hay. But in
this forsaken spot, and hemmed in as we were by all manner of
restrictions, we could find no congenial outlet for our activities. To
all appearance we were now at liberty to undertake many things that had
been forbidden in prison; but this appearance was mainly illusory. It
was just this contradiction between our apparent rights and our actual
possibilities that galled us and weighed heavy on our spirits, making us
sometimes inclined to think we would almost rather return to prison, if
thereby we might escape from this torment of inactivity. We found it
irksome in the extreme to have to take enormous pains and waste much
time over mere trifles—the details of our primitive household
management—which, under the difficult conditions of our life, made
exorbitant demands upon us. Especially at first, when we were new to it
all, it often happened that for weeks at a time one could never take up
a book or a newspaper, and for educated, intellectual men that was
naturally very wearisome. The only interesting mental occupation open to
us was to observe the lives of the dwellers in this strange place; as
already mentioned, they were an oddly mixed lot, and we had plenty of
opportunity for studying them.

[Illustration:

  FEMALE CRIMINALS AT KARA DRAWING WATER-CART
    To face page 310
]

I have often been in the criminal prison of Kara, and witnessed there
the life of the convicts in their cells and in the workshops, as they
went about their various occupations. The employment of convict labour
in the gold-washing had been abandoned by that time, having been found
too costly; and the convicts were occupied with so-called “domestic
work.” Among other things they were used in transport, to take the place
of beasts of burden; and the spectacle of men—even of women—harnessed to
heavy carts, and moving painfully along like oxen in a yoke, was
altogether revolting.

About a year after our establishment in the settlement, convict labour
in Kara was entirely given up; the convicts were taken away, some to
serve in the construction of the Siberian railway, (then just begun,)
some to the island of Saghalien or to other penitentiaries. With the
convicts departed their guards, the Cossacks, and other officials; our
settlement was well-nigh depopulated, and life became more monotonous
than ever. However, one advantage ensued for us: we could use the
abandoned dwellings of the officials, and so lived more comfortably
henceforward. We were on the best of terms with the few inhabitants who
were left; we taught their children, assisted them with our counsel when
we could, and gave them medical and legal advice. To these people a
“political” seemed a compendium of learning, and they applied to us on
every kind of occasion. Now it was strictly forbidden us to engage in
any work that could interfere with that of practitioners of the “liberal
professions”; by law we were not allowed to teach or to give medical
aid; yet, circumstanced as we were, the officials themselves were not
above calling for our help, notwithstanding the infringement of the law.
Of course, therefore, they could not very well bring us to account for
our dealings with civilians. Only on one occasion did this kind of thing
lead to any unpleasantness, and I will briefly relate that occurrence.

A peasant from a neighbouring village came and laid the following case
before us. One day the newly appointed _prìstav_ (commissioner of
police) had appeared at his house with the _stàrosta_ of the village and
other officials, and without giving any reason had instituted a
domiciliary search. In the larder they had found some poods of ship’s
biscuit, tea, tobacco, candles, and other stores, all of which the
_prìstav_ had confiscated out of hand, on the pretext that the peasant
could only have such quantities of these things in his possession in
order to exchange them for “pirated gold,” and that he was therefore a
convicted receiver of stolen goods. Then when the peasant had attended
at the house of the _prìstav_ in compliance with the latter’s orders, he
was informed by the official that he must pay him fifty roubles before
he could have his property back. This claim appeared to the peasant
quite unconscionable, and on the advice of a neighbour he had come to
beg me to draw up for him a petition against his extortionate oppressor.
The peasant told me a long story: how he needed all the articles in
question for his own consumption; he procured them in winter, when the
transport was easier, and used them in the summer for his workpeople, of
whom he employed a great number. This was evidently all humbug; it was
perfectly obvious that the good man was really a receiver of “stolen
gold.” On the other hand, it was as clear as daylight that the official
had been guilty of an offence, having tried to use the peasant’s
infringement of the law as a means of extorting backsheesh for himself.
I had already heard that this newly appointed satrap was grinding the
faces of the whole population in this province—a district as large as
many a German state, over which he was irresponsible master—and was
diligently using his position to fill his own pockets. Nearly every
night he paid surprise visits to the houses of the inhabitants, took
possession of whatever fell into his hands, and then put it to ransom at
a high price. At the same time he bullied the simple people in the good
old fashion of official Russia, raging at them like a Berserker. His
favourite speech was, “You fellows shall learn that I’m your Tsar and
your God!”

The notion of teaching this functionary a lesson rather attracted me;
but I did not want to play the hedge-lawyer, so I advised the peasant to
find someone else to undertake the affair, as I knew there were
officials whose business it was to write out appeals and complaints. He
told me that they had refused to help him, as they were afraid of the
_prìstav_. So I finally decided there was nothing for it but to do as he
asked; and that I should not appear to be denouncing the man secretly I
added at the end of the document (though I knew I had no legal right to
draw up petitions for other people)—“Written and signed for the
illiterate petitioner by the political exile Leo Deutsch.” By signing my
own name I meant to show that it was far from my desire to make
anonymous denunciations; and also I calculated that this circumstance
would oblige the authorities to attend to the matter. The peasant was
much pleased, thanked me warmly, and wanted to tip me a rouble for my
trouble, which of course I declined.

For several months nothing was heard of the business; then one day the
_dessyàtnik_[109] came to me and called on me to go to the office, as
the _prìstav_ wished to speak to me. This order was quite irregular, as
we “politicals” were only answerable to our own superintendent, not to
the police. I therefore answered the _dessyàtnik_ very shortly—

“Go and tell your _prìstav_ that I am not at his beck and call, and that
if he has anything to say he can come to me.”

I made the man repeat my words till he had them correctly, and impressed
upon him that he must tell the official exactly what I had said, which
he did most conscientiously. The wrath of the “Tsar and God” may be
imagined at receiving this answer in the presence of all the officials
of the commune and a number of the peasantry. As I was subsequently
informed, he stormed and raged like one possessed, and finally ordered
that I should be put in irons and brought before him. Despite his
categorical command the people hesitated to obey, and not till some
hours later did the communal officers come to my house, and beg me, with
all manner of apologies, to accompany them. I explained to them that the
_prìstav_ had no legal rights over me, and that it would be far more in
order for him to communicate with me through the superintendent of the
penal settlement. This contented the ambassadors, who returned and
informed the _prìstav_ that he had no jurisdiction over me. The day
after I learned from our superintendent that all the _prìstav_ had
wanted was to tell me about a communication he had received in
consequence of the complaint I had drawn up—a circumstance, therefore,
that had nothing whatever to do with me. The whole affair fizzled out in
the end; but when I left Kara some years later the peasant had not yet
received back his goods, which still lay under the official seal in
charge of the _prìstav_, and for aught I know they may lie there to this
day.

Footnote 109:

  A village constable appointed by the inhabitants of the
  commune.—_Trans._

[Illustration:

  AGED ORDINARY PRISONERS AT KARA
    To face page 314
]

For me personally the affair had no evil consequences. After the lapse
of some months a document was sent me by the Governor, wherein I was
warned that I was not permitted to draw up complaints for the
inhabitants. Of course, if our relations with the peasant population had
not been so cordial, the business might have led to trouble; but as it
was, the authorities did not care to risk causing an agitation among the
peasants by harsh measures towards us.



                             CHAPTER XXXII
            THE DEATH OF THE TSAR—NEW MANIFESTOES—THE CENSUS


“Do you know that the Tsar is very ill? They say the doctors are
doubtful of his recovery.” A well-known official addressed me one day in
these words.

The unexpected news surprised me very much. It had been a general belief
that Alexander III., of whose herculean strength many stories were
current, would attain a great age, and so be able to carry on his
reactionary policy for many years to come; and now suddenly there shone
a ray of hope, for even in Russia it is usual to expect much of a new
ruler.

In November, 1894, came tidings of the Tsar’s death; and soon afterwards
two manifestoes were announced—one for the marriage of Nicholas II., and
one for his coronation. This time I was not excluded. By the provisions
of the first manifesto the entire term of my punishment was shortened by
a third, _i.e._ by four years and some months; but this “grace” came
when I had altogether only ten more months of convict life before me! By
the second manifesto the time I had to wait before I could pass from the
category of exile to that of simple peasant was altered from ten to four
years. When I was told of the first manifesto I was also informed that I
should have to go to Yakutsk as an exile: but eventually, in consequence
of various circumstances, I did not avail myself of either proclamation.
Private reasons occasioned my preferring to remain in Kara; so I did not
go into exile at all, but remained where I was as a convict, having
obtained the Governor’s permission to do so.

                  *       *       *       *       *

One cold December day in 1896 I suddenly heard the sound of
sleigh-bells, and a sledge stopped before my house. The door opened, and
a man entered wrapped in sheepskin and _dohà_.[110]

Footnote 110:

  A kind of cloak with fur both inside and out.

When he had emerged from his furs I recognised our _starshinà_,[111] an
important functionary known and feared far and near. His wisdom and
firmness had secured for this representative of the peasants’
self-government a universal respect far above his social position. He
was strong-minded and independent, and was said to be a very adroit and
energetic man, but also hard, and morally not quite above reproach. He
lived about thirty versts from my abode, and had only visited me on one
former occasion. I therefore concluded that only some important reason
could have induced him to come so far in the bitter cold. According to
Siberian custom, he did not at once begin upon his business; but after
he had drunk some glasses of hot tea and eaten something, he laid the
case before me as follows:—

The Government had issued orders that a census of the whole population
should be taken on an appointed day throughout the whole immense empire.
For this purpose there would be required a large number of capable
persons such as in Russia it was not very easy to find, and still less
so in Siberia. The local authorities were hard put to it on this
account, and the census superintendent of the district had consulted
with his subordinates how to solve the problem. When affairs at Kara and
the neighbouring villages came to be discussed, our _starshinà_ had
declared that he would only undertake the business on one condition,
namely, that I should help him. I was the only fit person; without me
the thing would be impossible. The census superintendent had nothing to
say against my participation in the work, and even the _prìstav_
(against whom I had drawn up the complaint) could make no objection,
though he himself was to take an active part in the proceedings. He had,
in fact, to superintend the taking of the census in his own district,
and if I were to assist I should be directly responsible to him.

Footnote 111:

  The elder or chief of the commune, as the _stàrosta_ is of the
  village.—_Trans._

The _starshinà_ explained all this to me, and asked if I would consent.
I agreed immediately; for the work involved would be a welcome relief to
the monotony of my life, and was for a useful end. One circumstance only
made me a little anxious—association with the _prìstav_ might be
awkward. However, the _starshinà_ assured me that the man heartily
regretted that old affair, would gladly have it forgotten, and bore me
no grudge. One other obstacle—the difficulty of obtaining permission
from the superintendent of the convict settlement—the _starshinà_
himself undertook to remove.

The business was soon arranged, and I—the “political criminal”—was
suddenly clothed with official dignity. I was to take the census in a
village about fifteen versts away, with a large population of about a
thousand souls; and I was then to enumerate the people of another
village in conjunction with the pope.[112]

Footnote 112:

  The village priest.—_Trans._

It was very interesting to look up these peculiar people in their own
homes and to make personal acquaintance with them. Of course, there were
many comical episodes and absurd misunderstandings; and on the other
hand, I had glimpses of very sad—even tragic—circumstances.

My trouble was so far rewarded that the inhabitants expressed their
gratitude to me in various ways, and the officials seemed to be
impressed by my promptitude. I had accomplished my task some little time
previously when one day in January, 1897, the _starshinà_ paid me
another visit. The good man had again something to ask me. It was
prescribed by the instructions that the head of every census-area should
finally call together a certain number of the persons who had undertaken
the work of enumeration in his district—one from each commune—to correct
the results and draw up a general report.

The head of our district was, as I have said, my old opponent the
_prìstav_; and I now learned that that gentleman was particularly
desirous to persuade me, through the mediation of the _starshinà_, to
represent our commune—the Shilkìnskaya Vòiost—at the committee of
census-takers for his district.

The proposal had much to attract me. For more than eleven years I had
never left Kara, and I knew only the adjacent villages. Now I was
offered the chance of travelling a distance of some hundreds of versts,
and that in a province which, as I was aware, contained much that was of
great interest. The work of drawing up the general report likewise
interested me. The only objection was association with a man I had come
against in such an unpleasant way; but the eloquence of the _starshinà_
again prevailed over my doubts, and I agreed to undertake the task.
Permission for me to leave my place of internment was at once given, and
I set off on my journey.

Of course I travelled at the State’s expense. I received a pass from the
Governor, which entitled me to requisition horses for my use wherever I
went, and to lodge in the _zèmskaya kvàrtira_, or official
residences;[113] in short, I was for the time being an official
travelling on Government business.

Footnote 113:

  In every Siberian village a house is kept up by the inhabitants, at
  local expense, for the accommodation of any officials who may be
  passing through. _Zèmskaya kvàrtira_ literally means “provincial
  quarters,” or “communal quarters.”—_Trans._

A journey of the kind in a Siberian winter is no trifling matter. I was
clad in furs, a _dohà_ over all the rest, and so wrapped up in a fur rug
that I could hardly move in the sledge. The road ran for the most of the
way through a practically uninhabited part of the province, a hilly,
thickly wooded country, and the horses had hard work to get the sledge
along. Every thirty or forty versts we came to a halting-station, where
the horses were changed. When I arrived everyone was always most
subservient and polite, giving me such a reception as befitted a very
important official, which was sometimes extremely funny. At the first
station where I was to spend the night, the elder of the village
displayed a perfect fever of official zeal. I arrived late in the
evening, and had at once sought my bed, when the man came to me, much
disturbed.

“Has your Excellency any orders for me?”

I begged him to see that horses were ready for my start next morning;
but that did not seem to satisfy him. He said that my gracious commands
should be obeyed, and still insisted on decorating me with a title. When
I explained to him who I really was, he admitted “certainly that was
another thing”; but orders he was determined to have, notwithstanding,
and asked if he should not fetch the census-takers of the village to
wait on me. I naturally did not wish to disturb them in the middle of
the night, which he could not understand at all. The people of other
villages also astonished me by the fervour of their attentions; and I
could not quite comprehend it, until I learned that our masterful
_prìstav_ had travelled by the same route a few days before, and had
spurred up his subordinates with injunctions to receive the “Censor of
Shilkinskaya” (as I was entitled) with all honour, and to fulfil his
orders most carefully.

As I approached the goal of my journey I met at the stations other
census-takers, also on their way to the conference. Among these people a
rumour was current that the head of our district had found the lists
submitted to him unsatisfactory, and that the whole business would have
to be done over again. Of course my colleagues were rather troubled over
this, for such an undertaking might easily cost them several days’ work,
and they had left pressing affairs behind them. Besides, the
census-takers received but very scanty remuneration for their
exertions—a few roubles only; or, if they preferred it, a medal which
the Government had had struck for the purpose.

After two days I arrived at the Stanitsa Aigùnskaya, where the
conference was to be held. I had been wondering all this while how my
meeting with the _prìstav_ would go off, and he, too, seemed to have
had the same anxiety; for I had scarcely awakened next morning when a
Cossack came to the _zèmskaya kvàrtira_, where I and the other
census-takers had slept, and announced that the _prìstav_ wished to
speak to the Censor of Shilkinskaya. I told the man to say I would
come as soon as I could, made a leisurely toilet, and had my
breakfast. But in a short time appeared a fat man of about fifty, in
the uniform of a police official, who introduced himself as
“Head-of-the-census-district-of-so-and-so Bìbikov”—my _prìstav_, in
fact. I on my side announced myself as “Census-taker Deutsch,” and we
chatted together most peaceably, as if we had never fallen out in our
lives. The tormented man at once poured out his troubles to me. He
could not manage his task at all, and confessed that he could not make
head or tail of the divers instructions, orders, and circulars of the
various authorities; neither did he know how to proceed with the
examination of lists and drawing up of the report for his district.
And then there were thirty census-takers worrying him, some of whom
had come a whole week’s journey from their homes; naturally they
wanted to get back, and they were pressing him to release them, but he
could not accede to their wishes, as all the lists seemed to him
inadequate. His moving tale ended with a petition that I would stand
by him; he knew how well I had managed things in my division, and I
was the only man who could help him to bring this difficult task to a
satisfactory conclusion. Several of the other census-takers, too,
urged me to take the thing in hand; and as I was interested to see how
the work had been started from the beginning, and what a
superintendent like the _prìstav_ was expected to do, after some
hesitation I consented, for which my quondam enemy thanked me
effusively.

When we entered the official building the office was full of people.
These were the census-takers, among whom were all kinds of
persons—clerks, medical men, schoolmasters, and a great many Cossacks.
Directly they saw the _prìstav_ they crowded round him, begging him to
try and finish up with them.

“Just look at them!” said the _prìstav_; “that’s how it goes on every
day. It’s enough to drive one mad!”

I made them give me the papers, and tried to master their contents. As I
had already guessed, the business was not really so difficult and
puzzling as it had appeared to the poor police official; but it was work
that did not come within his scope, and he had no notion how to tackle
it. At the end of a few hours I had things in train, and could show him
what he had to do.

The presence of the census-takers proved to be unnecessary, and they
were able to go home next day, for which they were extremely grateful;
but I myself had to remain a whole fortnight in the place. There was in
fact a great deal of writing to do, and the _prìstav_ and I were hard at
it from morning to night. He was always politeness itself to me, and no
one who witnessed his charming behaviour now could have believed that he
had once given orders to put me in irons. But of course that episode was
never alluded to.



                             CHAPTER XXXIII
  A PREHISTORIC MONUMENT—MY DEPARTURE FROM KARA—LIFE IN STRETYENSK—MY
      TRANSFERENCE TO BLAGOVESTSHENSK—THE MASSACRES OF JULY, 1900


During my sojourn in Kara I took part in an expedition, the object of
which was to discover the whereabouts of a curious relic of ancient
times. One of our comrades, Kuznetsov by name, who by reason of his
archæological researches was rather a noted personality in Siberia, had
written to me on this subject. According to the testimony of various
people, there was in the neighbourhood of Kara a monumental stone
covered with ancient characters inscribed in some red colouring matter.
This had been mentioned long before in the proceedings of the
Geographical Society of Irkutsk, but had never been described in detail;
and Kuznetsov—who himself lived at a considerable distance from Kara—was
anxious that I should search for it and copy the inscription.

I gladly undertook the mission, and early one spring day I set out on
the quest, accompanied by two friends, following the meagre clue we had
been able to obtain. We only knew in a general way the direction and
distance of our object, which was supposed to be near the banks of the
River Bitshoug, about thirty-five versts away. There was no road, and we
were obliged to go on foot across a very boggy bit of country, leading
the horse which carried our provisions and other necessaries.

We started at dawn, reached the river towards evening, and there camped
out for the night. During the next few days we explored the locality,
but in vain, and we were at last obliged to return from our fruitless
errand. I then made further inquiries about the stone among the
inhabitants of the place, many of whom were hunters, and therefore well
acquainted with the surrounding country, and I promised a reward to
anyone who could guide me to it; but it was not until nearly two years
later that I heard a report of how two peasants from a neighbouring
village had seen something of the kind. This rumour proved correct; and
a gold-digger of my acquaintance undertook to guide me to the object of
my search, making the expedition by sledge, as it was then winter.

The monument with the red inscription turned out to be not far from the
spot where I and my friends had previously looked for it, but the dense
forest undergrowth had hidden it from us. It dates undoubtedly from a
very early period, and consists of a smooth perpendicular surface hewn
in the rock, whereon curious signs and characters are drawn.

We made a careful sketch of the monument, and a photographer who
happened to visit Kara subsequently took separate photographs of the
whole stone and of the coloured characters. These I sent to Kuznetsov,
with a detailed description, but I have never heard whether the meaning
of the inscription has been deciphered.

                  *       *       *       *       *

When, in consequence of the imperial manifesto, I passed from the
category of convict into that of exile, the change only affected my
circumstances in that it deprived me of the right to an allowance from
the State. Henceforward I was thrown entirely on my own resources, and
the task of supporting myself was no light one. The population of Kara
diminished steadily, and among others the family whose children I had
taught for several years removed from the place. It was absolutely
impossible to find any other remunerative occupation; my relations at
home were sending me no money, and my affairs got into a very
unsatisfactory state. I had a host of debts, and could expect assistance
from no one.

[Illustration:

  THE COSSACK VILLAGE OF STRETYENSK
    To face page 324
]

Just then began the work in connection with the construction of the
railway in the Stanitsa of Stretyensk, some hundred versts distant from
Kara. I decided to migrate thither; and, the Governor having given me
the necessary permission, I left Kara on the 20th of May, 1897.

The Stanitsa of Stretyensk, situated on the banks of the large and
navigable River Shilka, was at that time the scene of much activity. The
population had increased to between four and five thousand; there were
some good shops and several business firms. The ordinary inhabitants,
besides the Cossacks, were chiefly Jews; but the railway works had
brought all kinds of people to the place—officials, clerks, contractors,
etc.—so that Stretyensk had taken on more the appearance of a thriving
town than of a mere Cossack village.

I soon found a post, and a comparatively good one, on the railway; my
duties being to draw up the various orders, advices, and circulars, and
to copy them out. But the yearning for a fuller life possessed me here
even more than at Kara, partly induced by the more bustling life of the
busy little place, partly by the total absence of any congenial society.
In Kara I had had comrades with whom I could converse on every kind of
topic; but in Stretyensk, though I knew nearly everybody at least by
name, there was no single person to whom I could talk about anything
beyond the most everyday matters. The principal, and almost the only,
subject of conversation was money. The flow of capital into the country
on account of the new railway had aroused in the inhabitants an almost
incredible greed and a feverish desire of becoming rich. There were
numbers of people who recoiled at nothing in the pursuit of this
aim—cheating, dishonesty, even downright theft, were all in the order of
the day; and the irresponsibility and arbitrariness of officials which
prevails throughout Russia, and especially in Siberia, greatly assisted
in undermining the morals of the population. Many large fortunes were
made in an extraordinarily short time.

The only relaxations from this constant working and striving after
riches were drinking and card-playing. Not only was there no library in
the Stanitsa, but there was not even a school for the children of those
who were not Cossacks, _i.e._ a greater part of the inhabitants. When I
of necessity entered into the society of the place I felt myself in a
world entirely strange to me, and utterly uncongenial. It was hardly
possible for any, even intelligent, young man to escape being driven to
drinking or gambling in such an atmosphere.

It is true that here I had the advantage of more freedom of movement
than in Kara, and that I could go further afield. During the two years
of my stay in Stretyensk I frequently made long excursions in different
directions; and on these expeditions I became more closely acquainted
with local conditions, and learned to understand the life of Siberia
much better than would be possible from any amount of mere reading up
the subject.

In the spring of 1899, while travelling, I met with a comrade of my own
way of thinking, who had been exiled by “administrative methods.” It was
the first time I had met a Social Democrat newly come from Russia, and
my delight may be easily imagined. We talked nearly all through the
night, and I learned for the first time from him how great had been the
expansion of our movement among the working classes during the last ten
years, and how quickly the idea of Social Democracy had taken root in
Russia. I was especially impressed by his account of its development
among the Jewish workers in the western provinces.

Under the influence of the feelings aroused by this intelligence, my
longing to return home sprang up with redoubled strength. This thought
had been kept in the background during the last few years; but now it
forced itself upon me with urgent insistence. What were the
possibilities of the case? This question was hard to answer with any
certainty. I had now been fourteen years in Siberia, and it was fifteen
years since my arrest in Freiburg; in accordance with the terms of the
last imperial manifesto, by which I was to benefit, I might go home
after another seven years,[114] and this term might conceivably be
further shortened by some fortunate concatenation of circumstances. Once
more to see European Russia, where I had not been as a free man for
twenty years, was the most fervent wish of my heart; yet what warrant
had I for supposing I should be still alive in another seven years? or
that, being alive, I should actually be granted the privilege of
returning to Russia? Life in Siberia became each year more irksome to
me. I found it well-nigh impossible to remain in Stretyensk, and I
determined to go further east, to the comparatively large town of
Blagovèstshensk. After exerting myself for some time to obtain
permission to do this, I at last succeeded, and in the autumn of 1899 I
quitted Stretyensk.

Footnote 114:

  See note, p. 293.—_Trans._

I found myself much better off at Blagovèstshensk; I soon got employment
on one of the two local newspapers, and the work was far more
interesting than that to which I had hitherto been condemned. The
society here, also, was much more agreeable, for the town contained many
cultivated people, and also several comrades in our movement, political
exiles like myself. The town possessed schools, a public library, a
theatre, a telephone service—in short, so far as outward civilisation
went, Blagovèstshensk stood in no way behind European towns of the same
size, and was even in some ways more advanced. During the last few years
the place has attained an unenviable notoriety from the occurrences
there at the time of the war with China in 1900. I thus became an
involuntary witness of that terrible series of events of which the
Russian Government gave such a lying version to the world. In the
interests of truth I will here relate the particulars from my own
experience as an eye-witness of much that occurred.[115]

First of all let me give some details about Blagovèstshensk. It is the
chief, and was formerly the only town in the Amur province, which covers
a considerably larger area than many a European state. Blagovèstshensk
is situated on the flat left bank of the Amur river, which for a long
distance forms the boundary between Russia and China; before the war it
contained 38,000 inhabitants. Most of the houses are of wood, and there
are no fortifications.

Footnote 115:

  The remainder of this chapter appeared, with a few further details, in
  _Die Neue Zeit_, February, 1902. Extracts from the article were quoted
  at the time in many Continental and some English journals.—_Trans._

On the right bank of the river, exactly opposite the town, was the
Chinese village of Saghalien.[116] There was constant intercourse
between the dwellers on either bank, carried on in summer by means of
boats and junks, in winter over the ice; for the Chinese and Manchurians
were the chief purveyors of supplies to the inhabitants of
Blagovèstshensk, especially of meat and vegetables. Until the spring of
1900 relations between the two settlements had been uniformly peaceful;
but after the murder in Pekin of the German ambassador, von Ketteler,
and the decision of the Russian Government, on January 24th, to mobilise
the Siberian army, constraint and tension began to make themselves felt.
On the Chinese side of the river military exercises took place every
evening; the beating of the tattoo sounded, and the firing of cannon was
heard, which had never been known to happen before. To the inquiries of
the Russian authorities as to the meaning of all this, the Chinese
answered that a small detachment of soldiers had been quartered there
for the summer. This reply entirely satisfied the administrators of
Blagovèstshensk, but not the inhabitants; many of them opined that the
Chinese were not having gun-practice for nothing, and telescopes further
showed that earthworks were being constructed in the neighbourhood of
Saghalien. The representations of people who had observed this only
elicited from the Russian military governor of the Amur province—General
N. R. Gribsky—the assurance that these were trifles, and need disquiet
no one.

Footnote 116:

  Not to be confused with the _island_ of Saghalien.—_Trans._

[Illustration:

  BLAGOVÈSTSHENSK
    To face page 328
]

Meanwhile there were but few soldiers in Blagovèstshensk—two or three
regiments of infantry, a regiment of Cossacks, and a brigade of
artillery—and by order of the Governor-General Grodekov even these were
almost all withdrawn on July 11th and sent down the Amur to Habarovsk,
while only one company of soldiers, a hundred Cossacks, and two guns
(one of which proved later to be totally useless) were left behind in
the town. Besides these there were about two thousand reservists, who
had been called out in accordance with the mobilisation order; but in
view of the entire lack of arms and ammunition, these reservists were of
little use, and certainly could not count as any efficient protection to
the town.

The departure of the military, for which many steamers and barges were
needed, took place with much ceremony, and was watched by an immense
crowd of people. This could not fail to be observed by the Chinese
inhabitants of Saghalien, who were thus made aware that the Russian town
was left almost defenceless.

Further down the river, about thirty versts from Blagovèstshensk, is the
little Chinese town of Aigùn. When the Russian soldiery came to this
place on July 12th, the Chinese allowed the boats to pass without
hindrance until all but the last steamer had gone by, and then opened
fire upon this last boat, which contained the ammunition, forcing it to
return to Blagovèstshensk. The news of this attack spread through the
town on the evening of the next day, and aroused great uneasiness among
the inhabitants, even the administration at last becoming alarmed. By
order of General Gribsky, the military governor, a meeting of the Town
Council was called for the morning of the 14th, and this conference was
attended, not only by all the town councillors, but by many of the more
important residents, by various officials, directors of the bank, etc.,
and I myself was present as the correspondent of a local paper.

Colonel Orfenov spoke in the name of the military governor; and after he
had explained to the assembly how scanty were the means of defence
available to the military authorities, he proposed that he himself
should undertake the organisation of affairs. Though it had been known
that after the departure of the troops there could not be many soldiers
left in the town, nobody had supposed that their number was as small as
now appeared from Colonel Orfenov’s account. His frank statement made a
great impression on his audience, and alarmed them considerably. Many
turned pale or showed other signs of emotion, and the voices of the
councillors, whose speeches followed, trembled with excitement. After a
short discussion it was decided to call for volunteers. The town was at
once divided into military districts, and a chief with two assistants
appointed for each. Thereupon some members of the Council repaired to
the military governor to inform him of their decision and to consult
with him upon the situation.

As I was afterwards informed by one of those who spoke then with General
Gribsky, he thanked the town’s representatives for their readiness to
undertake the duties of defence, and tried to quiet their apprehensions
of danger from the Chinese. When asked if he did not think it necessary
to take steps with regard to those Chinese who dwelt in great numbers in
Blagovèstshensk itself and its neighbourhood, he declared that in his
opinion any such special measures would be unnecessary and inadvisable,
as war had not been declared between Russia and China. The General
further informed the deputation that he had already been approached by
representatives of the Chinese in the town, with the question whether it
would not be better for Chinese subjects to withdraw betimes from
Russian territory. Whereupon (and this was his own account of the
matter) he had told the delegates to inform their compatriots that they
might remain where they were without anxiety, as they were on the soil
of the great Russian Empire, whose Government would never allow peaceful
foreigners to be molested. Finally, the governor stated to our
representatives that he himself, with the remaining detachment of
soldiers and the hundred Cossacks, would go on the following day to
Aigùn, in order to free that place from the Boxers, to occupy it, and so
to ensure free passage on the Amur for Russian vessels. This latter
plan, however, was never carried out; for the active hostility of the
Chinese towards the people of Blagovèstshensk manifested itself earlier
than anyone had expected.

On that very same afternoon, when a great number of people of all
classes had assembled at the municipal buildings to enrol themselves as
volunteers, the noise of gunshots suddenly resounded from the Chinese
shore; and from the windows of the town-hall, where I was myself, we saw
people hurrying in crowds from the shore, crying, “The Chinese are
firing! the Chinese are attacking us!”

The volunteers in the town-hall believed, when they heard these cries,
that the Chinese were attacking the utterly defenceless town, and an
indescribable panic ensued; some rushed into the street, others hurried
to the armoury of the hall (where, as everyone knew, some hundred old
guns were stored), crying, “Arms! give us arms!” The number of these
weapons was of course insufficient to arm all the volunteers, and many,
chiefly the poorer people, then rushed to the shops—which, as it was
Sunday, were closed—broke in, and possessed themselves by force of any
weapons they could lay their hands on. The entire community was overcome
with terror. Numbers of the inhabitants packed up their valuables and
fled from the town on foot or on horseback; or took refuge with friends
who lived at a greater distance from the river and in stone houses,
which could afford better protection from shot or shell. The idea that
the Chinese might crowd into the defenceless town, set it on fire, and
practise all manner of horrible cruelties on the inhabitants, drove many
people into a state of positive desperation.

It would in truth have cost a disciplined army of small proportions but
little trouble to destroy Blagovèstshensk in a few hours, but luckily
for its citizens the Chinese were very bad marksmen; most of their
shells never reached the town, but fell into the Amur, or else they
failed to explode. Thanks to this there were only between fifteen and
twenty of the townspeople killed and wounded during the whole
bombardment.

On the second day of the siege Blagovèstshensk presented a forlorn
appearance—shops closed; windows and doors fast shut; no horses and
hardly any foot-passengers in the streets, people who had ventured out
keeping close to the walls, and hurrying over the crossings for fear of
stray bullets; all business at a standstill.

We had already organised a garrison of volunteers. All along the river
bank, for a distance of several versts, shelters were dug out hastily
and by night, in which volunteers of all ages and classes were posted to
observe the Chinese on the opposite shore and so render a surprise
almost impossible. Many people, however, saw danger in quite another
direction, namely, from the Chinese quarter of the town itself. Here
dwelt Chinese and Manchurians in considerable numbers—merchants,
tradesmen, day-labourers—whose work had been most useful to the whole
community. Industrious in the extreme, and modest in their requirements,
these Chinese subjects had never given the smallest cause for complaint;
honesty and conscientiousness were their leading attributes, and in many
shops and commercial houses, and also in private dwellings, entire trust
was reposed in them as employees. By many Russian families with whom the
young Chinese were in domestic service they were looked on as friends;
often they were taught the Russian language, which they would study with
the greatest diligence. But by the lower and less cultivated classes of
the Russian population the Chinese had never been regarded with favour;
they were looked upon as foreigners who obstinately refused to
amalgamate with the Russians, for the Chinese never, with the rarest
exceptions, alter their customs or their outlook on life. The workmen
saw in them dangerous competitors, for it is well known that before the
Chinese came to the Amur wages were higher, (though, on the other hand,
after the war, when cheap Chinese labour disappeared, many articles that
had been within the means of the poorer classes became prohibitively
dear).

From these causes, and also from sheer brutality—for coarse and cruel
elements are to be found in every nation—it happened that even in
peaceful times the Chinese were often maltreated by Russians when they
met in the streets, hustled or knocked about, or their pigtails pulled.
Some more flagrant instances of oppression of the humble, timid Chinaman
even found their way into the columns of the local press; and there were
further instances of this sort after the mobilisation order, when
numbers of reservists, called in from their employments in the country
districts, filled the streets, and would often (especially when drunk)
fall on any Chinese they encountered, beat them unmercifully, and call
after them, “It’s your fault, you dogs, that we’re taken from our work
and our families and sent to our deaths!” In the eyes of the ordinary
European the Chinese were not human beings, but “cattle,” “beasts”; and
the state of things engendered by this feeling had caused the military
governor to issue a proclamation, threatening with punishment those who
molested peaceful Chinese subjects.

Trusting in the assurances of the highest local authority, the Chinese
and Manchurians of Blagovèstshensk and its environs, to the number of
several thousand souls, had remained on the spot. They were soon
bitterly to rue having done so. Even on the 14th of July, when firing
from the Chinese shore was in progress, and the frightened crowd was in
panic-stricken flight, one could see how as they ran they would turn
upon and maltreat any unlucky Chinaman who happened to be in the way.
Chinese and Manchurians fled through the town in a most pitiable
condition, seeking some safe corner in which to hide; and on the evening
of the same day cases were reported of their being murdered in the open
street. Persons whose word could be trusted asserted that the police
officials themselves had advised citizens to kill any Chinese abroad in
the town that evening; for many feared that those on Russian territory
might come to the assistance of their compatriots by setting fire to the
town. It was also supposed that there might be supporters of the Boxers
in the town, and to this fear had been due the first suggestions of its
being advisable to take measures with regard to the native population.
The more temperate and reflecting thought it would be sufficient if
those Chinese for whom Russian citizens would be surety—and of these
there would be many—were left to the care of their European protectors,
and if the rest were assembled together in one place and put under
proper supervision. But it turned out that the local authorities were of
a different opinion.

On the second day after the commencement of the bombardment Cossacks
both mounted and on foot might be seen, together with police, going
round to every house and inquiring whether there were any Chinese
inmates. If asked what was wanted with them, they replied that all
Chinese in the town were to be brought together and placed under the
charge of the police. Suspecting that nothing good was intended, many
people sought to conceal the Chinese who were with them, hiding them in
cellars and attics; but often the neighbours informed the police of
this, and then the Cossacks would insist, with threats and even with
drawn swords, on their being delivered up. This process of arresting the
Chinese lasted over several days.

I can hardly describe the consternation of these unhappy people when
told they must go to the police office. Hastily collecting their
belongings, they followed the Cossacks with faces of unspeakable dismay;
and when taking leave of their European friends they gave them their
money and goods to take care of, in many cases begging them to discharge
some debt, or even giving them the free disposition of their
effects—perhaps houses and shops full of valuable property. Foreseeing
their tragic fate, many asked on the way, “Will they behead us?”

They were not mistaken in their fears. Murder in cold blood awaited
them; and only during the Middle Ages, at the time of the Inquisition
and the persecution of heretics, Jews, and Moors in Spain, have such
inhuman proceedings as now followed been equalled.

Some versts above Blagovèstshensk, on the left bank of the Amur, there
is a Cossack settlement. Thither before sunrise several thousand
Chinese, among them old men, cripples, invalids, women, and children,
were driven by the Cossacks and police. Those who for sickness or
fatigue could not get so far were stabbed on the road by the Cossacks.
One man, a representative of the great Chinese firm Li-Wa-Chan, refused
to proceed, demanding to be taken to the governor, who had promised the
Chinese delegates safety for all who remained on Russian soil; but for
answer the Cossacks killed him then and there. The deputy-_prìstav_,
Shabanov, was present, and uttered no word of protest against this
iniquitous deed.

When the miserable Chinese had been driven down to the shore of the
Amur, they were commanded _to go into the water_. Means there were none
for reaching the opposite Chinese shore; the river at this point is more
than half a verst (about one-third of a mile) in width, and flows with a
strong current. One can picture what terror seized on the poor creatures
at the water’s edge. Falling on their knees, with hands raised to
heaven, or even crossing themselves, they implored to be spared such a
death. Many vowed to become Christians and to be naturalised as Russian
subjects. But the only response vouchsafed to their prayers by the
merciless fulfillers of official orders were bayonet-thrusts, and blows
with the butt-end of rifles or with swords, to drive them into the
river-depths; any who still continued to resist were simply murdered on
the spot.

Persons who by chance were eye-witnesses of this wholesale drowning and
massacring, which proceeded on several successive days before the rising
of the sun, tell of frightful and heartrending scenes. One Manchurian
family that was driven into the water consisted of father, mother, and
two little children. The parents each took a child, and tried to swim
across the Amur, but all were soon sucked down by the current. In
another family there was one child; the mother besought the murderers
and the bystanders at least to take the little one and spare its life,
but no one would do so. She then left it on the bank and herself entered
the water, but after a few steps returned, seized her child, and
carrying it went back into the river, then again returned and laid down
her precious burden. Here the Cossacks intervened to end her
vacillations, stabbing both parent and child. The tortures of this
wretched mother and of all the victims thus driven to their death can be
imagined by everyone not dead to all human feeling. Even the
above-mentioned police officer, Shabanov, declared that he could not
remain to the end of this scene of horror.

[Illustration:

  ON THE AMUR NEAR BLAGOVESTSHENSK—THE SCENE OF THE MASSACRE
    To face page 336
]

But very few of that immense multitude, and those only the strongest
swimmers, succeeded in getting anywhere near the Chinese shore; yet even
of these but a small number survived. When the Cossacks saw that they
were likely to save themselves they sent a few well-planted shots after
them; and Chinese marksmen, too, posted in trenches on the opposite
side, fired on the swimmers—either because they took them for Russians,
or because they considered as enemies all Chinese who had remained in a
Russian province after, as was asserted, a proposal had been made to
them that they should return to their homes long before the beginning of
hostilities.

When, on July 17th, great numbers of corpses became visible floating
down the Amur it was clear to everyone in Blagovèstshensk that these
peaceful unarmed Chinese inhabitants of the town, whom the governor
himself had advised not to return to China, but to trust in his promise
of protection, had been done to death. Scarcely two days after the
guarantee had been given, General Gribsky had faithlessly broken his
word, by giving the verbal order to “_send back the Chinese subjects to
China_.”

Indignation and horror filled the minds of all right-thinking people
when they learned in what manner that order had been carried out. The
dreadful story was told with tears and shuddering; many longed to
protest, and express their burning wrath at the barbarous treatment of
the poor harmless Chinese workpeople, but how was that possible in
Russia? Besides, on the 17th itself, Blagovèstshensk and the entire
province of the Amur had been put under martial law; consequently anyone
who dared to protest would have been instantly dragged before a
court-martial. Some of those who compassionated the Chinese tried at
least to prevent the continuance of the reign of terror. A few instances
occurred where people who had managed to conceal Chinese servants or
guests in their houses, went to the local authorities with urgent
petitions that they might be allowed to offer personal surety for these
survivors of the massacre; and some who had exceptional influence
succeeded in saving one or two. But such cases were rare, and nearly all
who were preserved in this way had to remain in custody of the police
throughout the siege.

The rich young merchant Yun-Tcha-San (a man with a European education,
speaking both Russian and French) succeeded in escaping in this manner,
by heavily bribing the officials; but he is reported to have said that
had he known what frightful humiliations he would be subjected to, he
would rather have perished in the river.

A lady well known in the town, Madame Makeyeva, went to the governor,
with whom she was personally acquainted, to beg that her young Chinese
servant, who had been five years in her house, might remain with her.
This servant had been of the greatest value to the family; if anyone
were ill he nursed and tended them, watching by their bedside day and
night. But when General Gribsky found that it was for a Chinese Madame
Makeyeva was entreating, he cried, “A Chinaman!” and drawing his hand
across his throat, added, “That’s how we shall treat them all.” And when
Madame Makeyeva persisted in her entreaties, explaining further that the
man in question had long wished to become a Christian, the governor
merely answered, “I do not issue orders for either the imprisonment or
the release of these people, it has nothing to do with me”; following up
this with the declaration of his intention (which he subsequently
carried out) to lay the whole blame of the drowning and slaughtering on
the shoulders of his subordinates, Batarèvitch, prefect of police, and
Captain Volkovinsky.

The same lady had a similar reception from the highest spiritual
authority of the place, the Bishop of the Orthodox Church. When Madame
Makeyeva begged him on her knees to baptise her Chinese servant, this
apostle of Christian love told her drily that she should not intercede
for Chinamen, that it was not right to have them about one; finally
recommending her to go to the civil authorities, whose business it was.
The worldly power sent her to the spiritual, and the latter back to the
former; but after much difficulty she actually succeeded in gaining her
end. Few were so persevering in their efforts as she; I only found a
very few instances of Chinese being successfully interceded for by their
Russian employers, although I made very careful and exhaustive inquiries
on the subject. The Chinese and Manchurians of the native quarter found
no such advocates, and they were all drowned or otherwise murdered
without exception.

Apologists for the massacre were found even among people of culture, who
argued that even had there not been the danger that the Chinese would
set the town on fire, we were not called on to strengthen our enemies by
sending their compatriots to reinforce them, or to waste our own
provisions by keeping them under guard and so having to feed them. As to
the former excuse, the natives could have been rendered perfectly
harmless by being massed together in one place; and as for the latter,
the Chinese had ample provision for their extremely modest needs in
their own shops, which after their death were plundered by Cossacks,
police, and others.

In the attempt to justify their brutal action a false report was spread
by the police that arms, gunpowder, and even dynamite were found in the
Chinese shops and houses; and though this was never confirmed in any
way, many persons were only too ready to believe it. As a matter of
fact, the possibilities of loot, as well as the repudiation of debts
owed to Chinese creditors, played a large part in causing both the
massacre and the justifying of it. When the Chinese were arrested the
Cossacks and police took their money and ransacked their dwellings; and
not only the lower but the higher officials enriched themselves
considerably by this means, the booty that this or that police officer
or member of the local administration had obtained for his share being
discussed quite openly. Many debtors of the Chinese profited by the
terrible end of their unfortunate creditors, as it is not customary for
Chinese business men to keep written memoranda; their methods are based
upon personal trust, and their own honesty is proverbial. If in any
instances such memoranda did exist, care was taken that they should
disappear, in case any claim should afterwards be made by heirs possibly
existing in China; while on the other hand Russian creditors of the
Chinese repaid themselves a hundredfold, with the connivance of the
police. It would take too long to relate all the examples of the
wholesale looting that was carried on by “respectable” merchants and
others; but one or two typical instances may be recorded.

A rich landowner, proprietor of a large steam-mill, Buyanov by name, of
whom some Chinese had hired a warehouse for their goods, when the owners
of the property stored there had been drowned, put up a wooden hoarding
between the warehouse and the next house to it, in order that he might
possess himself of the dead men’s property unobserved by inquisitive
eyes. Another man of property, also named Buyanov, and a cousin of the
above, made a subterranean passage from his own dwelling to the shop of
a Chinaman who had lived with him, and conveyed the property of the
deceased to his own premises. And a tradesman named Prikastshikov simply
had the wares of a Chinaman who had hired a shop from him carried on
waggons through by-streets to his own shop in a different part of the
town, having made use of a duplicate key which was in his possession.
These two last cases came before the courts in Blagovèstshensk, and the
perpetrators of the thefts were punished; but the great majority of
these instances of plunder were never revealed, chiefly because the
police and the authorities were themselves interested in shielding the
guilty. After the drowning of the Chinese it was decided that the police
should take charge of their property till legal heirship should be
established, and this proved a source of much profit to the police
officials, as may be guessed when the character of our police is taken
into account, together with the fact that in the Chinese quarter were
some hundreds of shops and warehouses containing valuables worth many
millions. After the war the police authorities in a few cases
surrendered property (for a substantial consideration, of course,
sometimes amounting nearly to the value of the goods themselves,) to
Chinese who proved themselves to be the owners, having fortunately
survived, or their legitimate representatives; but it depended entirely
upon the ransom offered whether the police would recognise or reject
such claims, not upon any legal formalities. The calm way in which high
officials appropriated property left in their charge was exemplified by
the case of the deputy-_prìstav_ Shabanov, surprised by a gentleman, (a
justice of the peace who had been appointed guardian of a Chinese
property,) as he was in the act of removing several cartloads of the
goods in question from the place where they were stored. Although this
aroused considerable comment, and even came before the courts, the trial
was without result, and Shabanov was not even removed from his position
as deputy-_prìstav_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

During several successive days the bodies of the murdered Chinese went
floating down the Amur in such masses as made counting them difficult,
and covering a considerable expanse of the river. Yet at first no
mention was made of this in the two local newspapers, nor was there any
allusion to the fate of the Chinese inhabitants of the town. Only on the
fourth or fifth day after the holocaust did an article appear in _The
Amur Province_, expressing indignation at the cruel and gruesome affair.
This article was copied in Petersburg journals, and thus the civilised
world for the first time learned how these thousands of helpless people
had been done to death. The other organ of Blagovèstshensk, _The Amur
Gazette_, confined itself to the meagre announcement that “the Chinese
residing on Russian territory had been sent away, a suggestion having
been made to them that they should cross to the other side of the
river.” Grodekov, the governor-general of the province, informed the
authorities in Petersburg that “the Chinese throw their dead and wounded
into the river, and forty such corpses have been counted.” Thus is
history written!

With much the same amount of veracity various officials sent reports of
the hostilities between the Russians and the Chinese. They told of
battles that had never taken place, of countless Chinese hosts, which
they pretended had been annihilated, when in reality only women and
children had been seen, and so forth. In the Amur province, for example,
much amusement was caused by the report sent from Colonel Kanonovitch
stating that in the so-called “Pyàtaia Pad” he had overcome an immense
army of Chinese, for which exploit he received a decoration. It soon
transpired that in the place mentioned Kanonovitch had only encountered
two Japanese women!

But to return to Blagovèstshensk. There is no doubt that the drowning of
the Chinese took place not only with the foreknowledge, but by the
express order—though possibly only verbal—of General Gribsky, military
governor of the town. To avert suspicion of the fact, however, and in
order to have a justification of himself ready if need should arise, he
issued a proclamation some days after the massacre, saying that “reports
had reached” him “of the rough handling and even murder of unarmed
Chinese in and about the town.” “These crimes,” he proceeded, “have been
committed by inhabitants of the town, peasants of the villages around,
or Cossacks; and although these deeds were provoked by the treachery of
the Chinese, who had first commenced hostilities against the Russians,
any further instances of violence towards unarmed persons will be
punished severely.” But, together with this proclamation, after the
taking of Saghalien by the Russians, General Gribsky issued another, in
which—as head of the Cossack forces—he ordered the Cossacks to go across
to the Chinese shore and there “annihilate all the Chinese bands.” In
other words, he told the Cossacks to massacre the helpless Chinese who
were left in the place after the flight of the troops; for when once
Saghalien had fallen, no _armed_ bands were left on the right bank of
the Amur.

General Gribsky carried his hypocrisy so far as to appoint a commission
to inquire into “the cases of violence towards peaceful Chinese.” But as
this commission would have had to report that the drowning and murder of
peaceful Chinese had been carried out under his own instructions,
naturally its findings could not be published. So, after the lapse of
several months, General Gribsky declared that from the report made to
him by the commission it was evident that the cause of the unfortunate
events which had occurred had been a want of unity among the officials
to whom he had entrusted the arrangement of affairs. This declaration
repeats almost word for word the pronouncement of the present Tsar,
Nicholas II., after the death of thousands on the plain of Hodinsky at
the time of his coronation; the cause of which the Tsar also found to
have been a lack of unity in the arrangements. General Gribsky evidently
wished to suggest that if on an occasion of holiday-making, wholesale
deaths had occurred in this way, nobody could really be held responsible
for the killing of Chinese during the bombardment of Blagovèstshensk.
And nobody was ever brought to book; General Gribsky and all his
subordinates remained on at Blagovèstshensk in their divers positions.

It came to light eventually that various authorities throughout the
province had sent direct written instructions to put the Chinese to
death; and that killing the unfortunate people singly and wholesale had
been carried out in many villages by the peasants, and in Cossack
settlements by the Cossacks. Several officials won notoriety by their
instructions to their subordinates on this head—Volkovinsky (the colonel
of Cossacks), Captain Tusslukov, and the _stanovoi prìstav_ (commissary
of rural police) Volkov, among others.

Obedient to the will of their superiors, the Russian peasants and
Cossacks armed themselves as they could, and began the work of
destruction. I cannot undertake to describe what went on in the
Manchurian territory on the Seya—a strip of land not far from
Blagovèstshensk, the inhabitants of which, though living on Russian
soil, were Chinese subjects and (by a diplomatic arrangement) paid taxes
to China. Enough to say that altogether sixty-eight villages were burnt
to the ground, that of their inhabitants, some were drowned, some
barbarously murdered, that property was looted, and cattle were driven
off by the Russians. In perpetrating these and other brutalities—either
on their own initiative or following out instructions—our peasants
thoroughly believed that they were fulfilling their duty as loyal
subjects. “That is how we ought to serve our Tsar and country,” one
stalwart hero concluded his narrative. Persons who in time of peace were
merciful even to dumb animals were changed by those days of horror into
stark barbarians. Here is an example: In one Russian village an old
Chinaman had lived for years in the service of a shepherd, and all the
peasants were most friendly with him. The report reached them that “all
Chinese must be killed.” They therefore called a village council and
consulted as to what should be done with the one Chinaman in the place;
and although everyone agreed that he was a good and honest old man, it
was decided that he must be put to death. When the people with whom he
lived broke the news to him he humbly submitted to the decree, only
begging that they would accompany him to the place where he was to die.

“I am a lonely old man,” he said. “I have neither kith nor kin. Do you
replace my family and go with me to the grave, as is the custom of my
people.”

The shepherd and his wife acceded to his request, and went with him to
the outskirts of the village, where the peasants then slew the
unresisting old man.

After a fortnight or so of these massacres, when the thirst for blood
began to be appeased, and the authorities ceased to spur the people on
to deeds of violence, they began to collect together and bring into the
town the few Chinese who remained alive, half-dead with hunger and mad
with terror. These poor wretches, scarcely able to move for exhaustion,
and those of the Chinese townspeople who for one reason or another had
been allowed to survive—some few dozen persons—were all that remained of
the many thousand Chinese who had dwelt in Blagovèstshensk and the
neighbourhood.

It was not difficult to foresee what character the war would assume when
our soldiers and Cossacks passed over into Chinese territory. Scarcely
had they crossed the Amur on August 3rd and taken possession of
Saghalien (from which place the inhabitants had fled betimes to the
interior of the country), when they set everything on fire. During the
two following nights the flames illuminated the river for a long
distance; and in place of a prosperous community which supplied
Blagovèstshenk with foodstuffs at very moderate rates, nothing was to be
seen on the Chinese bank but blackened posts and crumbling ruins.

The entry of our army into Manchuria was not merely signalised by
flaming dwellings; nothing and nobody was spared. Women, children, and
the aged were pitilessly slaughtered, young girls violated and then
slain. Such were the deeds of our “heroes,” as General Grodekov in his
despatches called these warriors, for whose “brave deeds” he “could not
find words to express his admiration”! But even some of his officers
themselves told with a shudder of the bloodthirsty instincts developed
by these “heroes” in a war against unarmed men, women, and children on
Chinese soil. A rich and thickly-populated land was reduced in a few
months to a barren desert, where charred ruins were visible here and
there, and corpses were left to the wolves and vultures.

When indignation is expressed at these atrocities it is customary to
meet with the excuse, “Read the accounts of the cruelties practised by
Germans, French, and English in China. If more civilised races behave
so, what can be expected from us less cultivated Russians?” It is hard
to answer this. The white races did indeed prove during that terrible
war with “barbaric China,” as they contemptuously say, the full worth of
their boasted civilisation. On the threshold of the twentieth century
average Europeans showed themselves scarcely less barbarous than the
hordes of Tamerlane and Tchengis-Khan.

All this shocking achievement of Russian officialdom, either directly or
indirectly authorised, of course went unpunished. But no! I must let the
exact truth have its way. General Gribsky held a judicial inquiry into
the conduct of his subordinates (who had carried out his own orders),
and the Russian newspapers shortly afterwards informed their readers
that “the chief of police in Blagovèstshensk had been sentenced to three
months’ imprisonment”—for the drowning, shooting, or stabbing of from
ten to fifteen thousand helpless and inoffensive Chinese!



                             CHAPTER XXXIV
 MY FLIGHT FROM SIBERIA—THE END OF MY JOURNEY ROUND THE WORLD—MY FRIEND
                        AXELROD AGAIN—CONCLUSION


The terrible events that had happened in the town, and the death of our
unhappy fellow-citizens, could not but leave an indelible impression on
many people’s minds, my own included. Blagovèstshensk had become so
detestable to us that many left the place as soon as things were quiet
again. Unfortunately I could not follow their example at once; but I
determined on the first opportunity to transfer myself to the Far East,
in which I had long been interested. I intended to settle in the busy
commercial town of Vladivostock, and there patiently await the time when
I might be free to return home. Before that time could arrive five or
six years had still to pass; but the nearer the time came, the more
irrepressible grew the desire to quit Siberia, and the thought of flight
recurred again and again. Nevertheless doubts also arose whether it were
worth while to jeopardise the freedom, however limited, that I had won
by my sixteen years of prison and exile. If my attempt failed, I should
have rendered myself liable to all the rigour of the law; and I was no
longer of an age to bear suffering and privations as in youth, for I was
now well past my fortieth year.

Thus did I hesitate backward and forward until the spring of 1901, when
various personal reasons made me come to a definite decision, which
resulted in my burning the bridge behind me, as the saying goes. I
resolved to escape as soon as the Amur was open for travelling again.

Circumstances favoured my project; a kind friend who had a large
connection throughout the country promised his aid, and the following
plan seemed the easiest of execution. I was to leave Blagovèstshensk
unobserved, going first to Habarovsk and thence to Vladivostock, where I
must take my passage on a foreign vessel bound for Japan; and this I
succeeded in carrying through, with the help of the friend above
mentioned.

It need hardly be said that I cannot give all the details of my flight
from Siberia, where I was under strict police supervision; for I must
not compromise those who assisted me. As I went on board the steamboat
that was leaving for Habarovsk, (of course, taking no luggage with me,)
there suddenly appeared the deputy-_prìstav_ to whose district I
belonged. Of course, at the first moment I thought my plans had been
discovered, and I was not a little alarmed; but I was soon satisfied
that the official had merely come to take leave of some friends who were
travelling by the same boat. It evidently never entered his head that I
was taking my departure from Blagovèstshensk under the very nose of the
police; I suppose he thought that, like himself, I had come to say
farewell to some friend, (which was quite permissible,) and I managed
that he should lose sight of me, so that he might imagine I had gone
home.

I found there were people of my acquaintance on board who belonged to
the place; but they apparently never once thought that I was leaving
Siberia for good; and in conversation with them I let it appear that I
was travelling on some official commission. Our boat was a tug, and
therefore went very slowly; it stopped at every village on the way, and
took five days to reach Habarovsk. Here came my most perilous moment, as
on leaving the steamer everyone had to show their passes, and of course
I had none. I avoided this difficulty by staying on the boat for the
night; and next morning I betook myself to the house of a friend, who
came on board and fetched me. I spent the day with him, and we devoted
it to seeing the town.

I had every intention of seeing as much as possible, during my journey
eastwards, of this country—hitherto unknown to me—which was developing
with such extraordinary rapidity, especially since the construction of
the railway by the Ussur. Villages were springing up like mushrooms, and
soon became towns of a considerable size. Habarovsk itself had developed
from the insignificant hamlet of Habàrovka into an important town which
is now the residence of the Governor-General of the Amur province. It is
situated at the junction of the Amur with the Ussur, and stands in a
most picturesque position on a steep and lofty cliff around whose base
flow the two mighty rivers. But this chief town of a vast and fertile
country is itself like nothing but a great barrack; nearly all the
houses have the appearance of official buildings, and one meets soldiers
in the streets at every turn. As in most Russian towns, there is no look
of comfort; the streets are unpaved and very dusty, and are dimly
lighted at night by oil lamps standing at a respectful distance from
each other. I found the town museum, however, by no means ill-equipped.

Faithful to my intention of learning all I could about the country, I
gladly accepted the invitation of a friend, near whose place of abode I
must pass, and went to visit him at Nikolsk-Ussurìsk. This place had
only within the year attained to the dignity of being called a town,
and, like many others in the province, it swarmed with soldiers; which
was explained by the fact that the slaughtering of Chinese was not yet
entirely at an end, and, as was supposed, preparations were also being
made for war with Japan. As the district lies in close proximity to
China, Korea, and Japan, and is the probable theatre of future warlike
operations, the Russian Government is apparently taking its measures in
good time, and by drafting in large numbers of soldiers is converting
the province into a sort of military camp.

After a stay of four-and-twenty hours at Nikolsk-Ussurìsk I went on to
Vladivostock, a very pretty seaport of some thirty thousand inhabitants,
for which—not without good grounds—a brilliant future is prophesied. Its
situation is charming, and in its public arrangements it is already far
in advance, not only of most Siberian towns, but also of many in
European Russia. Here I stayed three days before I could arrange for my
passage on a foreign vessel, but at length all was ready, and my last
night in Siberia arrived. I slept but little. The thought that next
morning I was to bid farewell to all that time had made so familiar to
me mingled with my fears for the successful achievement of my escape. So
often in my life had some small chance cruelly frustrated all my plans
that I naturally trembled now for the result of the present adventure. I
had no desire to find myself suddenly bound for the icy regions of
Yakutsk instead of for the lands of freedom, and I prepared beforehand
for every possibility.

All went well, however, and next morning I boarded a ship that was going
to Japan. Yet, when the boat weighed anchor and danger no longer
threatened me, a strange feeling of sadness came over me, as though I
were parting, not from the land of prison and exile, but from a dear
home. Thus can custom attach a man even to chains and bondage. But I
felt that it was not only from use and wont that I was parting; I was
not merely leaving Siberia, but Russia—and perhaps for ever.

                  *       *       *       *       *

It was a dismal day, the sky was covered with heavy clouds, and rain
flowed in torrents. Our steamer rolled violently, and many of the
passengers were seasick; but, though I had hardly ever been on the sea
before, I remained immune, and rejoiced thereat, as I had another long
voyage before me. We soon began to skirt the coast of the Korean
peninsula, and entered two harbours, those of Gensan and Fusan,
remaining four-and-twenty hours in each. I went on shore with some other
passengers to see the towns, which in many respects resemble those of
Japan—the same style of building, the same apparent superfluity of shops
and booths. The Japanese appear to be the ruling spirits there, and the
efforts of Russia to oust them do not seem likely to be crowned with
success; nor in my opinion are they justified, for Japan has every right
to exercise her civilising influence on Korea.

I also visited a Korean village in the neighbourhood of Gensan, and was
astonished at its primitive character. It consisted of one very narrow
street bordered by straw-thatched wooden huts, which had neither windows
nor doors, the latter being replaced by loose boards. The whole
population evidently lived principally in the street, carrying on all
occupations there—cooking, eating, and so forth.

Five days after our departure from Vladivostock the steamer dropped
anchor in the harbour of Nagasaki. As soon as the health regulations had
been complied with I got into one of the little boats that had crowded
alongside and went to an hotel close to the sea. Compared with Russian
inns it seemed to me cheap, clean, and comfortable; and the Japanese
servants spoke a little broken Russian.

In Nagasaki I had to decide how I would pursue my journey. I might go by
the Suez Canal to one of the ports of Western Europe, and that was the
shortest and cheapest route; but I had a great wish to see something of
North America while the opportunity offered, and thus to complete the
journey round the world that had been begun so much against my will. I
inquired about the next boat for San Francisco, and found it would not
leave for nine or ten days, but I resolved to employ the interval in
seeing the neighbourhood.

Nagasaki is a rather large town of over one hundred thousand
inhabitants, and lies scattered picturesquely over the hills that
surround a fine bay. Most of the streets, especially in the Japanese
quarter, are too narrow for horse traffic to be possible through them;
horses are, therefore, replaced by men, who with their little
two-wheeled carriages (_jinrikisha_) play the part of cab horses, and
are called _kurnei_. There are so many of them that they literally stand
before every house, and crowd in front of the hotels and big shops. They
surround any stranger in the street, bidding against each other for his
custom, and each trying to win his favour, chattering in broken Russian
or English. For the modest sum of ten _sen_ (about 2½_d._) the course,
or twenty _sen_ the hour, the _kurnei_ will take his “fare ” with
marvellous swiftness up hill and down dale; and it not seldom happens
that though the perspiration may be streaming from the brow of the
_kurnei_, the “civilised” European in his little carriage may be seen
laying a stick or an umbrella across his shoulders to urge him onward.
The poor fellow who thus turns himself into a beast of burden must give
almost half of his hardly earned day’s wage to the proprietor of the
_jinrikisha_, and must also pay something to the State for the licence
authorising him to support himself in this laborious way. His living,
however, is cheap enough, his food consisting of rice and an inferior
kind of fish.

Most of the houses in Nagasaki are two-storied wooden buildings, the
ground-floor being used as a shop, inn, or workshop. It was a puzzle to
me where all these innumerable shops could find customers, and how they
managed to exist. In my rambles I often saw a whole row of shops without
a single purchaser, and if one entered he was instantly surrounded as
though a customer were the rarest of guests.

The houses in the Japanese quarter are built in a wonderfully light and
airy fashion, as if just run up hastily for summer quarters. Throughout
the town there reigns the most perfect order; the streets are
excellently paved, and the portion before each house is kept clean and
watered by the occupier. There is never the least dust, and the air is
singularly mild and pure. One feels how each breath dilates and
strengthens the lungs, and it is not to be wondered at that many
Russians and English use Nagasaki as a health-resort.

The European quarter, along the quay, is full of hotels and restaurants,
banks, and other houses of business. Here the streets are somewhat
wider, and the houses more solidly built, with the lower stories of
brick, while many of them have verandas and front gardens. Life in
Nagasaki is wonderfully cheap, but it is also a trifle monotonous,
particularly for a stranger not conversant with the language. There is
little in the way of “sights”—two or three temples of Buddha, with
gigantic pictures of Sakia-Mouni, a commercial institute with samples of
native goods, and the well-known tea-houses; that is all the visitor is
invited to inspect. But the neighbourhood is extremely beautiful, and at
every step one is forced to admire the industry of the Japanese, who
leave no inch of soil untilled; except the very tops of the rocky hills,
all is carefully cultivated. And yet, notwithstanding this heavy labour
that the Japanese expends upon his land, his existence seems to have
something of the ethereal and fairylike; and many things in his
wonderful country contribute to produce an impression of unreality, as
if they were happening not in actual life, but on the screen of a
cinematograph.

The “progress” that Japan has made during the latter half of the
nineteenth century is doubtless very striking; but it seems to me
overestimated by many Europeans and also by the Japanese themselves.
Only a very small part of the population has been affected by Western
civilisation—a thin layer of the upper classes in the coast towns. The
rest of the people are scarcely touched by it; not only beliefs and
customs, but the whole mode of living remains the same, both in town and
country, as it has been from time immemorial. The primitive nature of
the Japanese character reveals itself in the transparent honesty
everywhere prevalent. No house or shop is shut up for the night; nobody
touches what does not belong to him; and lost property when found is
immediately restored to the owner. But in the seaports where European
culture already makes its influence felt, it may be feared that the
Japanese will soon adopt new ideas of “honour.”

I left Nagasaki on board the huge Pacific steamer _China_, belonging to
an American company. The two days that the boat stopped at Yokohama I
spent in visiting that town and the capital Tokio, which is reached in
about twenty minutes by rail; but there is no need to give my
superficial impressions of such well-known places.

During the first five days of the voyage I could talk with none of my
fellow-passengers, as I spoke no English, and I found this very
wearisome; but at Yokohama we were joined by a Frenchman, a German, and
a Japanese who spoke a little German, and we four formed an interesting
little international society, the members of which still keep in touch
with one another.

On the sixteenth day we reached Honolulu, where our boat was to wait
four-and-twenty hours. I had already heard when I was in Blagovèstshensk
that a good friend of mine, Dr. N. Russel, was living on one of the
Hawaiian islands; so I determined to find out whether he was in
Honolulu, and if so to pay him a visit during the boat’s stay here. With
the help of my French travelling-companion I managed to find out, though
only towards evening, that my friend lived on the island of Hawaii, but
that he happened just then to be in Honolulu. However, as when I found
the house where he was staying he was not at home, I left a note telling
him that an old comrade of his, who was travelling from Siberia to
Western Europe, would like to see him, begging him to come on board the
_China_ next morning and to ask for “the Russian.” I purposely signed my
name very indistinctly, for I wanted to see if he would recognise me, as
it was fully twenty years since we had met.

While I was on deck next day I saw a grey-haired gentleman in a white
coat come on board. I went towards him at once, (though he bore no
resemblance to my comrade of old days,) and when I found that he was
seeking “the Russian” I called him by his name, and asked if he knew who
I was. He looked at me for some time, but could not recognise me, so
much had I altered since we had been together; and at last I had to tell
him my name.

“Deutsch! is it you? How did you come here?” he cried, as he embraced
me. I told him in a few words the story of my escape, and that I was on
my way to Europe.

“And you’re going on this very day? No, we can’t allow that! You must
stay with me. We’ll stay here for a day or two, and then you must come
back to the farm with me!”

His invitation was so cordial that I should have accepted it immediately
could I have afforded to forfeit the value of my ticket from Honolulu to
San Francisco, about fifty dollars; but when Dr. Russel understood my
difficulty he cried—

“Nonsense! That shan’t prevent you. If you lose your money I shall pay
the difference myself.” And after some discussion I yielded to his
insistence, and went on shore with him.

I found that Dr. Russel was not only practising as a physician in
Hawaii, but that he was a member of the Senate, and was at present in
Honolulu to attend the session of that legislative body; consequently I
remained there for several days, and had full time to admire the lovely
town. I then went back with my friend to the island of Hawaii, where his
wife awaited us, and there spent a month; during which time I learned
from the Russels and their friends, and also from books, a great deal
about both the present and past history of these wonderful islands. The
lives of the natives exhibit much that is curious, and also much that is
tragic; but I must not dilate on all that I saw. I will only mention the
fact that the Hawaiians are dying out with almost inconceivable
rapidity. Of the strong, healthy race, who when Cook discovered the
islands numbered four hundred thousand souls, after the lapse of not
quite a hundred years only about twenty thousand are left, and this
remnant afflicted with various diseases that were unknown previous to
the arrival of Europeans.

My stay with the Russels gave me much pleasure; we made expeditions to
various parts of the island, to see the volcano Kilauea, the sugar
plantations, the native villages, and so on; and we were never tired of
congratulating ourselves on the turn of fortune that had brought us
together on this island of the Pacific. At last, towards the end of
July, after a delightful visit, I set out on my travels once more, this
time in a sailing-ship. We were twenty-six days on the journey to San
Francisco; though the weather was generally fine, I became heartily
tired of the voyage, and was very glad when on the evening of August
25th we arrived in the harbour of San Francisco. Dr. Russel had given me
introductions to friends of his, and with their help I made myself at
home in the Californian capital. After ten days’ rest there I went on to
Chicago, and so to New York.

In Chicago I was received, through a letter of introduction, by two
Polish Socialists, immigrants who were living there. They welcomed me
very kindly, but unfortunately my ticket did not allow of my remaining
with them more than two days. President McKinley had been assassinated
on the very day before my arrival in Chicago; people had quite lost
their heads, and turned upon peaceable Socialists, accusing them of
anarchism. My friends therefore advised me to be careful in travelling,
and not to use my own name; so I selected a pseudonym and travelled
_incognito_.

In New York another comrade, Dr. Ingermann, received me, and I stayed in
his house four weeks; after which I embarked in the English steamship
_Satrapia_ for Liverpool. I pass over my voyage, a stay of two weeks in
London, and the same in Paris, as containing nothing worthy of note.
Everywhere on the Continent I met with old comrades, many of whom had
changed much during the long years of our separation. Some could not
recognise me at all, others only with difficulty; all regarded me as one
come from another world.

From Paris I went to Zurich. This was the final point of my six months’
journey from Blagovèstshensk, and here dwelt my old friends the
Axelrods,[117] from whom I had parted seventeen and a half years before.
After a journey round the world of not quite the usual type, I returned
to them again on November 5th, 1901.

Footnote 117:

  See chap. i. _et seq._—_Trans._

“Look! he hasn’t changed a bit,” cried Axelrod, as he pointed me out to
his wife at the station. But it was only at the first moment of meeting
that it seemed so to him.

                  *       *       *       *       *

For over a year now I have been living again in freedom, going about
from one town to another. During that time I have learned to feel at
home in more than one European country; but it may be readily believed
that what is passing in my native land interests me beyond everything
else. Eighteen years make but a brief span in the life of a nation; yet
during that period a transformation has come over Russia that must meet
the eyes of even a superficial observer. At the time of my arrest at
Freiburg, in 1884, there were but a few groups of revolutionists, and
they were recruited chiefly from the young student classes, who rebelled
against existing social and political conditions. And, as I have
explained, owing to the methods of wholesale executions and arrests
adopted by the Government, these organisations dwindled and almost
entirely disappeared; so that from the end of the eighties
thorough-going reaction was triumphant for a time. Of late years,
however, it has been quite otherwise. The publications issued by our
secret press and distributed throughout the length and breadth of the
Russian Empire, calling on the people to rise against the existing
despotism, number above one hundred thousand, and they meet with
energetic response among the population of large towns and factory
districts. Workmen collect in great crowds in the streets along with the
students, and by means of monster demonstrations they voice their demand
for political freedom and the abolition of autocratic government. The
Tsar and his ministers endeavour by the most cruel and severe measures
to quench the torch that has been kindled in the land: the greater part
of Russia has been placed under martial law; the prisons can hardly
contain the numbers of their captives; those who protest against such a
régime are sent to Siberia by the trainload. But nothing can stem the
tide of the movement; it will rise higher and higher, embracing ever
wider circles of the people, and the hour is not far off when autocracy
will be laid low, as it was in Western Europe so many generations ago.
My flight from Siberia has taken place at a moment in our history which
is full of hope for the future.

In Western Europe also great changes have taken place during the last
two decades, though none, perhaps, so significant as in Russia. In
Germany the special laws against Social Democrats have been repealed;
and this has not only made a great difference to our party, but has
altered the internal life of the nation in a striking manner. In one
respect, however, Germany has made no advance: she is still ready to
lend her aid to Russian despotism. Just in the same manner as I was
arrested and delivered over to the Russian Government eighteen years
ago, though guilty of no offence against German law, so a compatriot of
mine has suffered a like fate even while I have been writing this
memoir. The Russian student Kalayev was arrested in Mysolowitz (1902)
without any warrant, and handed over to the Russian gendarmerie; since
which he has not been heard of. The Prussian police have in no way
altered their methods during the years that have flown; but to the
credit of the German people I must admit, that with the exception of
official journals, the entire press was most indignant over this
complaisance of the German Government towards the Russian.



                                THE END



                                 INDEX


 Administrative methods, 34, 36, 65, 293;
   “politicals” exiled by, 105, 107, 285, 326;
   institution of banishment by, viii

 Agàpov, Stephen, 182

 Aigùn, 329

 Akatoui, new prison at, 292;
   order for the removal of prisoners to, 294

 Aksha, 193

 Alexander I., vi

 Alexander II., vii;
   attempts against his life, 10, 11, 117, 219;
   result of his assassination, 230;
   mode of his assassination, 264

 Alexander III., his policy, 130;
   surmises as to his possible assassination, 230;
   attempt on his life, 259;
   manifesto pardoning convicts, 307;
   his death, 316

 Alexandrovo, 46

 Alexandròvskaya, plot to undermine station at, 269

 Alexei-Ravelin tower of the Fortress of Peter and Paul, 219, 260, 262

 Alexèiev, mayor of Tchita, 174

 “Alleviation, time of,” 236

 Alphabetical code used in communications between prisoners, 51 n.

 _Amur Gazette, The_, 341

 _Amur Province, The_, 341

 Amur, Province of the, 328;
   under martial law, 337

 Amur River, 328;
   massacre on banks of, 334-337

 Antònov, his execution, 104 n., 188 n.

 Anùtchin, Governor-General, 189 n.

 Archangel, 285

 Armfeld, Natalia, 206;
   death, 207

 _Artèl_, or union, the criminals’, 155 n., 160, 177-180;
   system of, in Kara prison, 221

 Aschenbrenner, Captain, 115 n.

 Asia and Europe, boundary post between, 147

 Axelrod, 16, 17 n., 357

 Axelrod, Frau, 2, 28

 Baikal, Lake, 195

 Balagansk, 187

 Balamutz, Andreas, 235 n.

 Barabash, General, military governor of Tchita, 174

 Barannikov, 264

 Basel, 1;
   University, 14

 Bastille, anniversary of the storming of, celebrated, 283

 Batarèvitch, 338

 Belino-Bshezòvsky, 122

 Berèsov, 152

 Berezniàk, 210;
   his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n.;
   attempt to rescue Medvèdiev, 261;
   arrest and sentence, 262

 Berg, Baron, 70

 Berg, Herr von, the Public Prosecutor, 28, 33

 Berlin, journey to, 44;
   gaol at, 45

 Beverley, his attempt to escape from Kiëv prison, 99;
   shot, 100

 “Biscuits,” meaning of the term, 177

 Bìtshkov, Vladimir, his disappearance from Kiëv prison, 100

 Bitshoug, River, 323

 Blagovèstshensk, 327;
   siege of, 332;
   massacre near, 334-337

 Bobohov, Sergius, his career, 285;
   sentence, 286;
   characteristics, 286;
   on the threat of flogging, 287;
   commits suicide, 290

 Bogdanòvitch, his recognition of Deutsch, 38, 39, 40;
   in Petersburg, 71;
   assassination, 71 n.

 Bogolyùbov, flogged, 288

 Bogomòletz, Sophia, her escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189
    n.
   story of her life, 191;
   in Kara prison, 269;
   removed, 271

 Bohanòvsky, his escape from Kiëv prison, 10, 15, 99 n., 210 n.

 Bolshakov, Governor, 207

 “Bombists,” 131

 Borisòvitch, 120

 Bosnia, insurrection in, 85

 Boundary post between Europe and Asia, 147

 Brantner, his execution, 104 n., 188 n.

 Bubnovsky, the locksmith, 241

 Bulìgin, Alexander, 3, 17 n.

 Bulìgin, Frau, her visit to Freiburg prison, 30

 _Bunt_, meaning of the word, 9 n.

 Burlei, Captain, Commandant of Kara prison, 237

 “Butirki,” or the Central Prison of Moscow, 110;
   number of prisoners, 111

 Butzèvitch, 268

 Butzìnsky, 57 n.

 Buyanov, 340

 “Carrier-pigeons,” meaning of the term, 59

 “Case of the 193,” 86, 234 n.

 Census, orders for a, 317;
   report to be drawn up, 319;
   conference at Stanitsa Aigùnskaya, 321

 Cesarèvitch, his journey through Siberia, 309

 Cheesemonger’s shop, subterranean passage from, 268

 Chicago, 356

 _China_, Pacific steamer, 354

 Chinese, their attack on the Russian boats at Aigùn, 329;
   character, 332;
   treatment by the Russians, 333;
   massacred, 335-337;
   appropriation of their property, 339-341

 Code, alphabetical, used in communications between prisoners, 51 n.

 “Commune room” in Kara prison, inmates of, 257

 Convict, a criminal, his appearance, 154;
   of “unknown antecedents,” 163;
   his views, 164;
   mode of living, 165;
   tramps, 165;
   treatment of, 167

 Convict labour, employment of, in Kara, 311

 Convicts, equipment of, 95;
   head-shaving, 95;
   fetters, 95;
   dress, 96;
   appearance, 112;
   loss of clothes at Tchita, 201

 Convoy officers, their character, 180;
   treatment of the prisoners, 180-182

 Convoy-stations, 158

 Criminals, ordinary, distinction between “politicals,” 97 n.;
   regulations, 135;
   the “Ivans,” 155;
   passion for gambling, 159;
   relations with the “politicals,” 163;
   tramps, 165;
   escape of, 165;
   character, 166, 171, 175;
   treatment, 167;
   influence of the “Ivans,” 175

 Dashkièvitch, Peter, 119;
   sentence, 137;
   exile, 151

 Debagòrio—Makrièvitch, Vladìmir, 104;
   his mode of escape, 155

 Decabrists, revolt of the, vi, 200

 Degàiev, a member of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, 43;
   his treachery, 43 n.;
   sentence on, 82

 Degàiev, Mdme., 119

 _Dessyàtnik_, or village constable, 314

 Detention, House of, at Freiburg, 5;
   Petersburg, 57;
   rules, 58;
   outdoor exercise, 60;
   system of communication, 66

 Deutsch, Leo, at Freiburg, 3;
   arrest, 4, 10;
   imprisoned, 5;
   joins the “Propagandist movement,” 6;
   member of the _Kiëv Buntari_, 9;
   attempt on the life of Gorinòvitch, 9;
   escapes from Kiëv, 10, 98;
   examination, 12;
   recognition of Prof. Thun, 14;
   statement of his case, 17;
   founds the League for the Emancipation of Labour, 17 n.;
   religious opinions, 24;
   his photograph, 27;
   change of cell, 28;
   plans of escape, 31;
   interviews with the Public Prosecutor, 33-36, 37;
   defence, 34;
   charges against, 35;
   extradition demanded, 35;
   preparations for the journey to Russia, 41;
   at Frankfurt-am-Main prison, 42;
   Berlin prison, 45;
   Granitza, 46;
   Fortress of Peter and Paul, 48;
   first examination, 52;
   deprived of his spectacles, 55;
   at the House of Detention in Petersburg, 57-72;
   reasons for his confinement in the fortress, 61-63;
   methods of communication between prisoners, 65, 66;
   at Odessa prison, 73;
   hunger-strikes, 76, 277;
   method of hearing news, 81;
   brief military career, 84-87;
   terms of his indictment, 87;
   trial, 88-91;
   sentence, 91;
   made to assume the dress of a convict, 95;
   a “political” prisoner, 97;
   at Kiëv prison, 98;
   at Moscow prison, 110;
   unfastens his fetters, 124;
   preparations for leaving Moscow, 138;
   revolt against head-shaving, 139;
   on the journey by boat, 142, 151;
   at Tiumen, 148;
   at Tomsk, 153;
   offered a “swop,” 154-157;
   friendly relations with convicts, 163;
   at Krasnoyarsk, 184;
   at Irkutsk, 189;
   at Verkhny-Udinsk, 196;
   loss of his fetters, 199;
   at Tchita prison, 201;
   Nertchinsk, 204;
   Kara, 206;
   in the “nobles’ room,” 215;
   in the “Sanhedrin room,” 240;
   attack of scurvy, 245;
   in the “Commune room,” 257;
   his release, 299;
   at the penal settlement, 300;
   his work, 302;
   hut, 303;
   relations with the peasants, 312;
   his treatment of the _prìstav_, 314;
   assists in taking the census, 317-322;
   search for a monumental stone, 323;
   at Stretyensk, 325;
   his longing for home, 327;
   at Blagovèstshensk, 327;
   flight from Siberia, 347;
   at Habarovsk, 349;
   Nikolsk-Ussurìsk, 349;
   Vladivostock, 350;
   Nagasaki, 351-353;
   Yokohama, 354;
   Honolulu, 354;
   Hawaii, 355;
   San Francisco, 356;
   Chicago, 356;
   New York, 357;
   Zurich, 357

 Dihovsky, Moses, 235 n.

 Dmohovsky, his burial, 234 n.

 Dnieper, 99 n., 143

 _Doha_, or cloak, 317

 Dorpat, 15

 Dostoiëvsky, _Memoirs from the Dead-house_, 293

 Drebyasghin, condemned to death, 11, 62

 Drenteln, General, 217;
   attempt on his life, 218

 Dühring, Eugene, 212, 216

 Dulemba, 259

 Dzvonkyèvitch, his attempt to escape on the march to Siberia, 170;
   in Kara prison, 210

 Easter, celebration of, in Russia, 134

 Ekaterinburg, 144

 Elisavetgrad, _Kiëv Buntari_ at, 9

 Erthel, 65

 Espionage in German prison, 25

 _Étape_, or halting-station, 147, 149, 203

 Europe and Asia, boundary post between, 147

 Exiles, 148, 198, 293 n., 307

 Extradition, treaty between Germany and Russia, 6, 53;
   Deutsch’s, 40, 62;
   Gotz’s attempted, 282 n.

 Fetters, fastening on, 95;
   loss, 199;
   permission to break, 124-126

 Fifty, trial of the, 205

 Figner, Vera, her appearance, 80;
   arrest, 80 n.;
   sentence, 115 n., 118;
   her character, 116, 118;
   revolutionary views, 116;
   impressions of the peasants, 117;
   attempt on the life of Alexander II., 117;
   in Schlüsselburg for life, 118

 Flogging, punishment of, 285, 288, 291

 Fomin, imprisoned in Kara, 241;
   his industry, 241;
   studies natural science, 242;
   release, 299 n.

 Fomitchòv, his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n.;
   in Kara prison, 241;
   sentence, 242;
   chained to the wheelbarrow, 242;
   his defence of the Tsar, 243;
   attack on Pohorukov, 296;
   his reasons for it, 297;
   term of imprisonment lengthened, 298

 Food, in Freiburg prison, 23;
   in Fortress of Peter and Paul, 50;
   in Moscow prison, 132;
   in Kara prison, 221

 “Fourteen, trial of the,” 112, 115

 Frankfurt-am-Main, 42;
   governor of the gaol at, 42

 Freiburg, 1;
   journey to, 2;
   arrested at, 4;
   imprisoned, 5;
   departure from, 42

 Freiburg prison, 21

 Frolènko, assists prisoners to escape from Kiëv, 98, 99 n.;
   his attempt on the life of Alexander II., 117;
   sentence, 117 n.

 Fusan harbour, 351

 Galitzin, Prince, Vice-Governor of Moscow, 136

 Galkin-Vrassky, head of the Prisons Department, 136, 234;
   in Kara, 235

 Gambling, habit of, 159, 177

 Garden, laying out a, in Kara prison, 254

 Gèhkin, Baron, murdered, 70;
   allows Luryè to escape, 86

 Gèhlis, 57 n.

 Gendarmerie, the Russian, x, 46

 Gensan harbour, 351

 Germany, Social-Democratic movement, law against, 1;
   methods, 213;
   repealed, 358

 Germany, conditions of prison life, 22;
   the Public Prosecutor, 27

 Gold, search for, in the River Kara, 305

 Goldenberg, his statement, 92

 Golubtsòv, captain of the guard, 208;
   his relations with the “politicals,” 272;
   advice to Masyukov, 273;
   transferred to the section for ordinary criminals, 296

 Gorinòvitch, Nicholas, his treachery, 9;
   attempt against his life, 9, 35, 53;
   deposition, 89

 Gotz, Michael, attempt to obtain his extradition, 282 n.

 Granitza, the frontier station, 46

 Gratchènsky, 268

 Gribsky, General, N. R., military governor of the Amur province, 329;
   on the massacre of the Chinese, 342;
   order to annihilate Chinese, 342

 Grodèkov, General, 91

 Grodekov, Governor-General, 329

 Gruzia, 205

 Grỳnevitsky, assassinates Alexander II., 264;
   death, 264 n.

 Habarovsk, 329, 348, 349

 Halting-stations, 147, 160, 180, 203

 Hawaii, island of, 355

 Head-shaving, process of, 95, 120;
   dispensation, 126;
   revolt against, 139

 Herzegovina, insurrection in, 85

 Herzfeld, Sophia Löschern von, 266, 267

 Hodinsky, plain of, 343

 Honolulu, 354

 Hrùstchov, Nicholas, sentence, 234 n.;
   escape from Kara prison, 234;
   recapture, 235;
   his manual work, 241

 Hunger-strikes, 190, 263, 273, 277, 284;
   method of, 76

 “Illegals,” meaning of the term, 9 n.

 Ilyashèvitch, Governor, 193, 235;
   attempt on his life, 193

 Ingermann, Dr., 357

 Irkutsk prison, 189

 Irtisch, 151

 Isbìtsky, Ladislas, 171

 Isbìtsky, V., his attempt to escape from Kiëv prison, 99, 155

 _Ispravnik_, or head of the district police, 145

 Ivanein, Karl, 241

 Ivànov, Basil, his escape from Kiëv prison, 100

 Ivànov, Colonel, 68

 Ivànov, I., 57 n.

 Ivànova, Sophia, 196

 Ivanòvskaya, Praskòvya, 269

 Ivàntchenko, his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n.

 Japan, progress of, 353;
   character of the people, 354

 Kalayev, his arrest, 359

 Kalyùshnaya, Maria, her attempt on the life of Colonel Katànsky, 82;
   sentenced to penal servitude, 82, 151, 157;
   her longing for freedom, 172;
   at Nertchinsk prison, 204;
   at Ust-Kara, 206;
   in Kara prison, 269;
   joins in a hunger-strike, 273;
   takes poison, 288

 Kalyùshny, Alexander, his attempted escape from Irkutsk prison, 189 n.;
   a “Sirius,” 229;
   appointed intermediary in the women’s hunger-strike, 273;
   commits suicide, 290

 Kama, the, 142

 Kanonovitch, Colonel, 342

 Kara penal settlement, 227 n., 300;
   legal regulations, 236;
   _see_ Nizhnaya-Kara

 Kara prison, escape of prisoners, 57 n., 234;
   arrival at, 209;
   nicknames of rooms, 215;
   the “nobles’
 room,” 215;
   system regulating the prisoners’ daily life, 221;
   the _artèl_, 221;
   allowance of food, 221;
   distribution of money, 221;
   “May days” events, 233;
   work of gold-washing, 233;
   rebuilt, 235;
   measures against the “politicals” in, 235, 236;
   changes of commandants, 236;
   modifications, 236;
   the “Sanhedrin room,” 240;
   first spring in, 245;
   monotony of the life, 248;
   physical exercise, 254;
   garden, 254;
   concessions under Colonel Masyukov, 256, 257;
   the “Commune room,” 257;
   number of prisoners, 259;
   women “politicals,” 266-269;
   conditions of life, 270;
   order for the removal of prisoners to Akatoui, 294;
   release of others, 298

 Kara River, 300;
   gold-washing settlements, 233;
   search for, 305

 Karanlov, 120

 Karovàiev, the exiled Decabrist, 200

 Kashintsev, Ivan, his term of imprisonment, 198;
   escape, 199

 “Kassiber,” or written message, 25

 Katànsky, Colonel, attempt on his life, 82

 “Katorga,” or penal servitude, 196;
   sentences, alleviation of, 236

 Katz, exiled to Siberia, 36

 Kennan, George, his travels, 202;
   _Siberia and the Exile System_, v, 206 n.;
   his visit to Kara, 239

 Ketteler, Baron von, his murder, 328

 Khàrkov, 80, 92, 119, 261, 263

 Khàrkov gaol, attempted rescue from, 261

 Khàrkov, Governor of, assassinated, 93

 Khàrkov, University of, 273

 Khàrkov, Veterinary College at, 215

 Kherson, 192

 Kibàltchitch, his attempt on the life of Alexander II., 117;
   executed, 117 n.

 _Kiëv Buntari_, 9

 Kiëv prison, 10, 98;
   escapes from, 10, 99, 100;
   arrival at, 98;
   independent spirit of the prisoners, 101

 Kiëv University, riots in, 103

 Kilauea volcano, 356

 Knocking, communication between prisoners by means of, 51, 56, 65;
   use of alphabetical code, in 51 n.

 Kobiliànsky, in the Fortress of Peter and Paul, 56;
   sent to Schlüsselburg, 57 n.;
   death, 57 n.

 Kòbozev, 268.

 Kohn, 259;
   his release from Kara prison, 299 n.

 Kolotkèvitch, his attempt on the life of Alexander II., 117;
   sentence, 117 n.

 Kopeck, value of, 142 n., 159, 222 n.

 Korba, Anna, 267, 268

 Korean peninsula, 351

 Korf, Baron, Governor-General, his treatment of Elizabeth Kovàlskaya,
    271;
   on the new regulations at Akatoui prison, 294

 Korniènko, 186

 Koros, Commandant of Kara prison, 236

 Kostyurin, Victor, sentence, 11;
   his release from prison, 206;
   meeting with Deutsch, 207

 Kotliarèvsky, Deputy Public Prosecutor, 53;
   his faculty for keen observation, 54;
   on the reason for Deutsch’s confinement in the Fortress of Peter and
      Paul, 61-63;
   on the “old clothes case,” 64;
   on the murder of Mèzentzev, 70;
   appointed President of the Courts at Vilna, 72

 Kovalèvskaya, Maria, details of her life, 187;
   character, 188, 190;
   hunger-strike, 189, 273, 284;
   sufferings, 190;
   views, 191;
   her arrival at Kara prison, 271;
   treatment of the doctor, 284;
   takes poison, 288

 Kovalèvsky, 188

 Kovalièv, 122

 Kovàlik, attempts to escape from prison, 260

 Kovàlskaya, Elizabeth, her escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture,
    189 n.;
   attempts to escape, 197;
   in Kara prison, 269;
   her behaviour to the Governor-General, 271;
   removal ordered, 271;
   her removal at night, 272

 Kovàlsky, Captain, 98

 Kòziriov, 172

 Krasnoyarsk, 170;
   arrival at, 184;
   prison, 184;
   regulations, 185

 Kratzenovsky, 235 n.

 Kravtchìnsky, S., his attempt on the life of General Mèzentzev, 92, 263

 Krayev, released, 11

 Kremutshy, 99 n.

 Kridner, Nicholas, Deutsch under name of, 14

 Krivènko, 65

 Kropotkin, Prince, Governor of Khàrkov, 93

 Kropotkin, Prince Peter, 263

 _Kulaki_, or usurers, 176

 Kurgan, 205

 Kùritzin, his release, 11;
   turns traitor, 69 n.

 _Kurnei_, 352

 Kutitònskaya, Maria, her arrest, 192;
   sentence, 193;
   attempt on the life of Ilyashèvitch, 193;
   appearance, 193;
   death, 193

 Kuznetsov, 323

 Kviatkòvsky, sentenced to death, 214

 “Labour, League for the Emancipation of,” 17 n., 21, 212

 Lavrov, Peter, 82

 Làzarev, Yegor, in Moscow prison, 129;
   elected chief of the commissariat, 132;
   banished to Eastern Siberia, 151;
   on the conduct of the Chief of Police at Irkutsk, 194;
   interned at Tchita, 202

 League for the Emancipation of Labour, 17 n., 21, 212

 Lèbedieva, imprisoned at Kara, 266;
   her death, 266

 Leiblen, Herr, 13, 18

 Lesnik, Colonel, Governor of the Fortress of Peter and Paul, 49

 Lesnoye, 117

 Letters, reception of, in Kara prison, 250, 251

 Levtchenko, 235 n.

 Li-Wa-Chan, 335

 Librarian, post of, in Kara prison, 227

 Lisogùb, 192, 242;
   condemned to death, 192 n.

 Lissenko, on the reason for his murders, 304;
   illegal trade, 305

 Listvinitchnaya, 195

 Literature, socialistic, prohibition of, in Russia, 1;
   printed in Switzerland, 1

 Liverpool, 357

 London, 357

 Lopàtin, Hermann, 82;
   his arrest, 121

 Luri, 259;
   his release from prison, 298

 Luryè, Semen, his escape from Kiëv, 86

 Lustig, Ferdinand, on the conditions of life in Kara, 195

 Lyòchky, his execution in Irkutsk prison, 189 n.

 Maidànsky, condemned to death, 11, 62

 Makeyeva, Madame, her entreaties for the life of her Chinese servant,
    338

 Màlaya Sadòvaya Street, 268

 Malinka, condemned to death, 11, 62

 Maltchèvsky, Captain, 111;
   his treatment of the prisoners, 113;
   testimonial to, 139

 Malyòvany, Vladimir, exiled to Siberia, 105, 151;
   death, 105 n.;
   vein of humour, 109

 Manayev, 237

 Manchuria, entry of Russian army into, 345

 Mankòvsky, 259

 Martinovsky, _stàrosta_ at Kara prison, 209, 217;
   his character, 217;
   sentence, 217;
   release, 299 n.

 Marx, Karl, his doctrines, 17 n.;
   _Capital_, 139, 212

 Masyukov, Colonel, commandant of Kara prison, 255;
   appearance, 255;
   character, 256;
   concessions, 256;
   his treatment of Elizabeth Kovàlskaya, 272;
   wish to be transferred, 274;
   “boycotted” by the women, 278;
   struck by Sigida, 280;
   his successor appointed, 298

 “May days” events, 233

 McKinley, President, his assassination, 356

 Medvèdiev, Alexei, his attempted rescue from prison, 215, 262;
   escape from Khàrkov gaol and recapture, 261;
   sentence, 262;
   character, 262;
   predisposition to alcoholism, 263

 Melikov, Count Loris, Minister of the Interior, 234;
   decree against the “politicals,” 234;
   annulled, 236

 Melnikova, 110

 Mendelssohn, Stanislas, his escape from prison, 46

 Merkúlov, 80 n.

 _Messenger, The European_, 250

 Mèzentzev, General, murdered, 70, 92, 218, 263

 Mihaïlov, Adrian, a “Sirius,” 229;
   arrest and sentence, 264;
   his remarkable memory, 264;
   release from Kara prison, 299 n.

 Mihailovsky, N., 212

 “Militarists,” 131

 Minuisinsk, 187;
   _ispravnik_ of, 187

 “Minuses,” nickname of, 223

 Minyukov, 235 n.

 Mirsky, his attempt on the life of General Drenteln, 218;
   arrest and sentence, 219;
   appearance, 220;
   views on social conditions in Russia, 220;
   on the new regulations at Akatoui prison, 295;
   release from Kara prison, 299 n.

 Mongolia, 137

 Moor, Karl, 14, 16

 Morphia, poisoning by, 289

 Moscow, journey to, 106;
   arrival at, 110;
   departure from, 140;
   the high-road from, 169

 Moscow prison, 110

 Moscow railway, train blown up, 11, 219

 Mouraviev, the Public Prosecutor, 52;
   attempt on his life, 122

 Music, cultivation of, in Kara prison, 253

 Myshkin, his escape from Kara prison, 234;
   capture, 235

 Mysolowitz, 359

 Mysovaya, 196

 Nabòkov, Minister of Justice, 61;
   petition to, 87;
   his visit to Odessa prison, 94

 Nagasaki, 351-353

 Narim, 152

 _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, 4, 13, 196;
   collapse, 131;
   power, 230

 “Naròdnaia Vòlya, Red Cross League of the,” 64

 _Neblàgonadyèshny_, or untrustworthy, 107

 Nertchinsk prison, condition of, 204

 Netshaëv case, 259

 New York, 357

 Nicholas I., vii;
   revolt on his accession, 200 n.

 Nicholas II., manifestoes on his marriage and coronation, 316

 Nijni-Kolymsk, 281

 Nijni-Novgorod, 142

 Nijni-Udînsk, 186

 Nikolin, Captain, Governor of Kara prison, 195;
   his character, 198, 237;
   treatment of the prisoners, 237;
   appearance, 238;
   nickname, 238;
   excess of zeal, 239;
   tyrannies, 246;
   departure, 247

 Nikolsk-Ussurîsk, 349

 Nizhnaya-Kara, 206;
   penal settlement at, 300;
   population, 300;
   regulations, 301;
   work, 302;
   monotony of the life, 310;
   employment of convict labour, 311

 “Nobles’ room” in Kara prison, inmates of, 215

 Novakòvsky, 186

 Novìtsky, Colonel, 103

 Nyèüstroyev, his execution in Irkutsk prison, 189 n.

 Obi, 151, 153

 _Ochrana_, or secret police, 43 n.

 Odessa, 9;
   journey to, 73

 Odessa prison, 74

 Olchin, A., 219

 “Old clothes case,” 64;
   work of the society, 133

 Olshàninov, 52

 Opium, poisoning by, 289

 Orfenov, Colonel, on the means of defence in Blagovèstshensk, 330

 Oriel, 109

 Orlov, Paul, mode of escape, 55;
   in Kara prison, 209

 Ossìnsky, 99 n;
   attempt on the life of Kotliarèvsky, 53

 Ostàshkin, Vice-Governor, in command of the province of Yakutsk, 281

 Ostiaks, 152

 Ozovsky, 259

 Pankràtov, 120

 Paris, 357

 Pashkòvsky, 259

 Perm, 142

 Perovskaya, Sophia, 196

 Peter and Paul, Fortress of, 48, 52, 54, 57 n., 99, 101, 166 n., 219,
    236, 260, 263, 265, 269;
   rations, 50;
   outdoor exercise, 51;
   knocking between prisoners, 51;
   Alexei-Ravelin tower, 219, 260, 262

 Petersburg, arrival in, 48;
   departure from, 72

 Petersburg House of Detention, 57;
   rules, 58;
   outdoor exercise, 60;
   system of communication, 66

 _Piròg_, or sort of pie, 226

 Plehànov, 17 n.;
   _Socialism and the Political Struggle_, 213

 Plehve, chief of the Central Department of the State Police, 55

 “Pluses,” nickname of, 223

 Pohitònov, Captain, 115 n.

 Pohorukov, attack on, 296;
   superintendent of Nizhnaya-Kara, settlement, 301

 Pohùlov, Major, Governor of the ordinary convicts prison, 239;
   his system of robbery, 240

 Polish insurrection of 1863, vii, 48

 “Politicals,” method of the Government in dealing with, 40 n.;
   system of communication in prison, 51, 66;
   distinction between ordinary criminals, 97 n.;
   equality, 128, 131;
   demeanour of the staff towards, 136;
   separation, 150;
   hardships of the journey to Siberia, 158;
   dispute about the hour for starting, 161-163;
   relations with the criminals, 163;
   escapes from prison, 189 n., 234;
   work of gold-washing, 233;
   privileges, 234;
   decree against, 234;
   annulled, 236;
   measures against, 235;
   modifications, 236;
   petitions for pardon, 277;
   join in a hunger-strike, 277;
   expiration of the sentence, 293 n.;
   release of, 298, 299 n.;
   relations with the peasants, 312;
   women, 266-269;
   conditions of life in prison, 270;
   relations with the authorities, 270;
   disputes, 271;
   their hunger-strikes, 273, 277, 284;
   boycott Captain Masyukov, 278;
   sufferings, 279

 Poltava, 107

 Pood, value of, 308 n.

 Popko, his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n.

 Popov, Michael, 57 n.

 Posen, Nicholas, his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n;
   in Kara prison, 244;
   his passion for argument, 244;
   petition for pardon, 277

 Post, arrival of, in Kara prison, 249;
   the “secret,” 251

 Pressnyàkov, sentenced to death, 214

 Prikastshikov, 340

 Prison at Akatoui, 292;
   Berlin, 45;
   Frankfurt-am-Main, 42;
   Freiburg, 21;
   Irkutsk, 189;
   Kara, 209;
   Kiëv, 98;
   Krasnoyarsk, 184;
   Moscow, 110;
   Nertchinsk, 204;
   Odessa, 74;
   Tomsk, 154

 Prisoners, distinction between ordinary and “political,” 97 n.;
   “children of misfortune,” 142;
   institution of the _artèl_, 177-180;
   ordinary, 176;
   sectarians, 176;
   “biscuits,” 177;
   relations with the escort, 203;
   “politicals,” 40;
   “on probation,” meaning of the term, 191, 236;
   suicide of, 288;
   release, 298, 299 n.;
   _see_ Prìstav“Politicals.”

 _Prìstav_, or commissioner of the police, 312;
   his treatment of the peasants, 312;
   of Leo Deutsch, 314;
   superintends the taking of the census, 318-322

 Prìsyetskaya, 191

 “Probation time,” 236

 “Proletariat, case of the,” 259

 “Propagandist movement,” viii;
   meaning of the term, 6;
   its character, 7;
   treachery in the, 8

 Protopòpov, 65

 Prybylyev, acts as medical adviser, 226;
   his assistance to Pohorukov, 296;
   release from Kara prison, 299 n.

 Prybylyèva, Raissa, 206, 207

 Ptshèlkina, Anna, 105, 106

 Pugatchev, 110


 Rashko, his attempt to rescue Alexei Medvèdiev, 261;
   arrest, 262

 Rasìn, Stenka, 70

 Rechnyèvskaia, Vitolda, 102

 Rechnyèvsky, Thaddeus, 102, 259;
   release from prison, 298

 Red Cross League of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, 64;
   work of the, 133

 “Red” terrorism, meaning of the term, 10 n.

 Rogachev, Lieutenant, 115

 Romny, 107;
   reading society at, 107;
   arrest of “conspirators,” 108

 Rosen, Dr., 77 n.

 Ròssikova, Elena, 192;
   her arrest and sentence, 192;
   in Kara prison, 269;
   removed, 271

 Roth, inspector, 25, 28, 37

 Rouble, value of a, 59 n., 222 n.

 Rozòvsky, case of, 39

 Rubìnok, his sentence, 121;
   banished to Eastern Siberia, 151;
   sent to Yakutsk, 195

 Rumania, 36

 Russakov, 264

 Russel, Dr. N., 354;
   his meeting with Deutsch, 355

 Russia, “administrative methods,” 34, 36, 65, 293;
   institution of banishment by, viii;
   army, volunteer in the, 85;
   census, orders for a, 317;
   Christian names, use of, 104;
   criminal code, 87, 293 n.;
   Easter, custom at, 134;
   extradition treaty, 6;
   gendarmes, character of, 46;
   literature, socialistic, prohibition of, 1;
   “politicals,” method in dealing with, 40 n.;
   prison regulations, 126;
   Propagandist movement, viii, 6;
   its character, 7;
   reaction, 276, 357;
   Social Democracy, expansion of the movement, 326;
   views on, 212;
   terrorists, number of, 64;
   village communes, power of the, 176;
   Workmen’s Union, 191, 198 n.

 Russìnov, Councillor, 275;
   his proposals of recantation, 276


 Saghalien, island of, 91, 293, 311

 Saghalien, Chinese village of, 328;
   Russians take possession of, 345

 Samoyedes, 152

 San Francisco, 356

 “Sanhedrin room,” in Kara prison, inmates of, 240

 _Satrapia_, steamship, 357

 Schlüsselburg fortress, 43 n., 57 n., 91, 117 n., 118, 120, 189 n.,
    214, 236, 260, 265

 Scurvy, attack of, 245

 Sectarians in Siberia, 176

 Semyanovsky, commits suicide, 234

 _Sen_, value of, 352

 Serbìnova, 110

 Seya, 344

 Shabanov, the deputy-_prìstav_, 335;
   on the massacre at Amur, 336;
   appropriation of Chinese property, 341

 Shebalìn, 120

 Shebalina, Paraskovya, 102, 119;
   death, 121

 Shilka River, 325

 Shilkinskaya, Vòlost, 319

 Shtchedrin, 57 n.;
   his sentence, 189 n.

 Shtchulèpnikòva, Barbara, 119, 151, 157

 Shtshulèpnikov, Senator, 128

 Shturkòvsky, 57 n.

 Siberia, army, decision to mobilise, 328;
   Cesarèvitch, journey of the, through, 309;
   Government, corruption of the, 168;
   houses, appearance of the, 172;
   inhabitants, character, 173-175;
   prisoners, preparations for the journey to, 138;
   hardships, 158;
   convoy-stations, 158;
   allowance of food, 159;
   halting-stations, 147, 160, 180, 203;
   accommodation, 161;
   escape of convict-tramps, 165;
   treatment of the peasants, 166-168;
   flight from, 348;
   railway, construction of, 144, 311;
   winter, severity of the, 200, 202

 Sigida, Nadyèshda, her sufferings in Kara prison, 279;
   assault on the commandant, 280;
   length of her fast, 284;
   condemned to be flogged, 287;
   death, 288

 Simàshko, Governor of Kiëv prison, 98

 “Sirius,” meaning of the term, 229

 “Sixteen, Case of the,” 214

 Smirnitskaya, Nadyèshda, 269;
   takes poison, 288

 Smirnòv, inspection of Moscow prison, 123;
   plan for escape, 123

 Snigiriòv, 181, 186

 Social-Democratic movement in Germany, 1;
   in Russia, ix, 17 n.;
   expansion, 326;
   German law against repealed, 358

 Social Democrats, 131;
   views on, in Germany, 213;
   in Russia, 212

 Soudyèhkin, Colonel, Commander of the Petersburg _Ochrana_, 43 n.;
   assassinated, 43 n.;
   succeeds in capturing terrorists, 267;
   discovery of a bomb laboratory, 267

 Souhomlìn, 259;
   his release from prison, 298

 _Sozialdemokrat_, 1, 13

 Spandoni-Bosmàndshi, Athanasius, 112;
   terms of his indictment, 118;
   condemned to penal servitude, 151;
   his illness, 186;
   at Kara prison, 259

 Stanitsa, Aigùnskaya, 321

 Stanyukòvitch, 65

 Starinkyèvitch, 209;
   his character, 216;
   sentence, 217;
   release from Kara prison, 299 n.

 _Stàrosta_, or head-man, 143, 147, 178;
   advantages of the office, 178;
   election, 223

 _Starshinà_, or chief of the commune, 317

 _Statyehny spìsok_, or “list of particulars,” 97

 Steblin-Kamensky, 197;
   on the prison life in Kara, 198

 Stefanòvitch, Jacob, his escape from Kiëv, 10, 15, 99 n. 210 n.;
   accused of attempt against the life of Gorinòvitch, 35;
   extradition demanded, 35;
   in Kara prison, 210;
   arrest, 210 n.;
   character, 210 n.;
   appearance, 210 n.;
   length of his imprisonment, 211 n.;
   views on the Social-Democratic organisation, 215;
   release deferred, 292;
   interned in Yakutsk, 299 n.

 Stepniak, 92 n., 263 n.;
   _Underground Russia_, v, 7 n., 10 n., 98 n., 193 n.;
   on Jacob Stefanòvitch, 210 n.

 Stretyensk, 325

 Stromberg, Baron von, 115

 Subòtniki, sect, 174

 Suhànov, 264

 Suicide of prisoners, 289

 Sundelèvitch, 209;
   his views on the revolutionary movement, 213;
   his character, 214;
   reaction, 214

 Surgut, 152

 Switzerland, 1, 11, 17, 19, 21, 27, 34, 42, 46, 104, 241

 “Swop,” meaning of a, 155 n.

 Taganrock, 218

 _Taiga_, or primeval forest, 165, 306

 Tarhov, 218

 Tchekondze, 204, 205

 Tchemodànova, Liubov, 151, 157

 Tchernishevsky, imprisoned at Viluisk, 166;
   his novel, _What Should We Do?_ 166 n.;
   attempted rescue, 234 n.

 Tchigirìn case, 10, 15

 Tchita, 174;
   arrival at, 201

 _Tchòrny Peredyèl_, or Redivision of the Land, 215

 Tchubàrov, 192, 242

 Tchuikòv, Vladimir, 112;
   terms of his indictment, 119;
   condemned to penal servitude, 151;
   at Nertchinsk prison, 204;
   at Kara, 207;
   appointed librarian, 228

 Terrorism, viii, ix, 8, 220, 230;
   the “red” and the “white,” meaning of the terms, 10 n.

 Terrorists, 8, 10, 15, 121, 130, 196, 213, 230, 267, 273;
   number of, in Russia, 64

 Thun, Professor, _Geschichte der revolutionären Bewegung in Russland_,
    7 n., 10 n., 98 n.;
   interpreter at Freiburg, 14;
   his lectures, 14;
   views on the terrorists, 15;
   lecture on “Two Episodes in the Russian Revolutionary Movement,” 15;
   his suggestions for escape from Freiburg prison, 31

 Tihomìrov, Leo, 82;
   a leader of the _Naròdnaia Vòlya_, 276;
   his apostasy, 276;
   _Why I ceased to be a Revolutionist_, 276

 Tìhonov, 100

 Tihonòvitch, Lieut. Alexander, 115 n.;

 Tishtchenko, 189 n.

 Tiumen, 120, 144;
   separation of exiles at, 148

 Tiutchev, his marriage, 207

 Tobol, 151

 Tobolsk, 149, 152

 Tokio, 354

 Tolstoi, Count Dimitri, 274;
   appointed Minister of the Interior, 130

 Tolstoi, Count Leo, his visit to Moscow prison, 129;
   gift of books to the prisoners, 138

 Tomi, 151

 Tominin, appointed commandant of Kara prison, 298

 Tomsk, 105 n., 151, 153;
   prison at, 154

 Tools, possession of, in Kara prison, 240, 257

 Transbaikalia, 193

 Treaty, extradition, between Germany and Russia, 6, 53;
   Deutsch’s, 40, 62;
   Gotz’s attempted, 282 n.

 Trepòv, General, Governor of Petersburg, fired at, 263

 “Trial of the 193,” 261, 263

 _Troikas_, or three-horsed carriages, 144;
   mode of travelling by, 146

 Tula, 109

 Tunka, 137

 Tura, 151

 Tusslukov, Captain, 343

 “Twenty, Trial of the,” in 1882, 258, 264, 269

 Ufa, Bogdanòvitch, Governor of, 71 n.

 _Underground Russia_, 7 n., 10 n., 98 n., 193 n., 210 n.;
   _see_ Stepniak

 Ural Mountains, 146

 Ussur, 349

 Ust-Kara, 206, 273

 Vannòvsky, Minister of War, 86

 Vasìliev, Makàr, 119;
   exiled, 151

 Verchoyansk, 281

 Verkhny-Kolymsk, 281

 Verkhny-Udinsk, prison at, 196, 271

 _Vèstnik Evropuy_, 250

 Vilna, 72

 Viluisk, 166, 234 n.

 Vladivostock, 235, 347, 350

 Vlastòpoulo, 172;
   terrorist principles, 275;
   recantation, 276

 Volga, the, 142

 Volhònsky, Prince, 128

 Vòlkov, Captain, 106, 144, 343

 Volkovinsky, Captain, 338, 343

 Volòshenko, his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n.;
   his views on the Social Democrats, 212

 Vorontsov, 188

 Voynoràlsky, his attempts to escape from prison, 260

 Vrassky, Galkin, _see_ Galkin-Vrassky

 Warsaw, 48

 Wheelbarrow, chained to the, 189 n., 242

 “White” terrorism, meaning of the term, 10 n.

 Wolkenstein, Ludmilla, 115 n.

 Yablonovoi mountain ridges, 200

 Yablonski, 2, 12

 Yakìmova, Anna, 269

 Yakovlov, Captain, temporary commandant of Kara prison, 255

 Yakubòvitch, Peter, 259;
   on the new regulations at Akatoui prison, 295

 Yakutsk, province of, 122, 307

 _Yaliks_, or boats, 152

 Yankovski, his sentence, 11

 Yatzèvitch, Nicholas, 241;
   his escape from Irkutsk prison and recapture, 189 n.;
   imprisoned at Kara, 215, 262;
   attempt to rescue Medvèdiev, 215, 262;
   character, 216;
   a “Sirius,” 229;
   champion chess-player, 253

 Yefremov, his arrest and sentence, 262

 Yemelyànov, his share in the assassination of Alexander II., 264;
   sentence, 265;
   change of views, 265;
   his petition for pardon, 277

 Yenisei, 186

 Yokohama, 354

 Yordan, the student, his longing for freedom, 172

 _Young Naròdnaia Vòlya_, members of the, 131

 Yun-Tcha-San, 338

 Yurhovsky, 235 n.

 “Yurtas,” or tent-shaped hovels, 308

 Yuvatchov, Ensign Ivan, 115 n.

 Zassoùlitch, Vera, 17 n.;
   her attempt on the life of General Trepòv, 263

 _Zeit, Die Neue_, extract from, 328 n.

 _Zemlyà i Vòlya_, or Land and Freedom, 116;
   society dissolved, 196

 _Zèmskaya kvàrtira_, or official residences, 319

 Zhelyàbov, 269

 Zion, Professor, 285

 Zlatopòlsky, Leo, his attempt on the life of Alexander II., 117;
   sentence, 117 n.;
   in Kara prison, 241, 258;
   release, 299 n.

 Zlatoust, strike at, 71 n.

 Zoubrtchitsky, 253

 Zuckermann, in Nertchinsk prison, 204;
   his character, 205;
   commits suicide, 205

 Zurich, 1, 357



                                PLYMOUTH
                        WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON
                                PRINTERS

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
A three number reference refers to the line within a note on that page,
or, if the page is prefixed with ‘i’, refers to the column and line in
the index pages.

The translator employed accented vowels on Russian words and names to
assist with pronunciation, but occasionally omitted them. They have been
made consistent here, erring on the side of including them, to aid in
searches.

Where names as given in the Index disagree with those in the text
itself, the text is assumed to be correct. The use of a grave accent, to
indicate emphasis, is imperfectly followed. The name ‘Kravtchinsky’
appears on pp. 263-264, as well as in the Index. But ‘Kravtchìnsky’
appears elsewhere and is assumed to be intended by the translator.

Minor punctuation lapses in the Index, especially, have been corrected
with no further notice.

 43.21.6    Pangs o[f] conscience, or fear of the          Added.
            vengeance

 47.6       they looked on me quite as an old              Added.
            acquaintance[.]

 71.32.1    comes the news (May, 1903) o[f] Bogdanòvitch’s Added.
            assassination

 117.32     in the guer[r]illa warfare against Napoleon’s  Added.
            invasion

 245.24     Improved diet and the skil[l] of our good      Restored.
            Prybylyev

                       .ta l:10 l:46 l:12 w=100%
 293.15     nevertheless[s] I awaited with impatience      Removed.

 317.11     a[n] universal respect                         Removed.

 342.20     not only with the foreknowle[d]ge              Added.

 i365.1.32  Katz, exiled to Siber[i]a>, 36                 Added.

 i365.1.36  Kett[e]ler, Baron von, his murder, 328         Added.

 i366.1.5   Kremuts[k/h]y, 99 n.                           Replaced.

 i371.1.17  Trepòv, General, Governor of Petersbur[y/g],   Replaced.
            fired at, 263





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