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in an inn, the hostess of which, finding she was without money, enumerated the names of such individuals in the town as were well known for their benevolent characters, and who would in all probability assist her when they knew her story. Amongst others, a certain Madame Milin was mentioned as most eminent for her charities. Before, however, Prascovie commenced the smallest undertaking, she invariably went to church. On this occasion it happened to be Sunday, and she knelt down before the altar and prayed. In quitting the church, a lady who had been remarking her fervent piety accosted her, desiring to know who she was. Prascovie answered in a few words, and added, that she was on her way to seek the assistance of Madame Milin, of whom every one spoke so highly. 'Perhaps,' said the new friend, 'the kind deeds of this lady have been much overrated ; come with me; I may be able to provide for you better.' Though the girl conceived a bad idea of the lady, from her dropping a hint unfavourable to a person of whom she had heard so much good, yet, without refusing to follow her, she did not assent in words to the proposition. 'Well,' continued the lady, 'if you are so anxious to visit Madame Milin, this is her residence. Let us see how you will be received. If not well, perhaps you may be the more willing to accept of my hospitality:: They entered the house, and, addressing a servant, inquired if the mistress was at home. The domestic was astonished at this question.
Can I see Madame Milin?' inquired Prascovie. The servant, half bewildered, pointed to her new friend, exclaiming : 'Why, that is Madame Milin ! The kind lady laughed at the little trick she had played, and led Prascovie into the house, causing every comfort and attention to be administered to her.
The hardships of the rest of Prascovie's long journey were materially lessened by the kindness and influence of her benefactress. Besides keeping her in her house till the spring, she taught her to read and write; for the poor girl had hitherto received no education, as her father, in his despair, saw no better destiny for her than passing her existence in Siberia amidst the lowest classes of society, and in the performance of the most menial labours.
When the time came for her departure, Madame Milin, after having provided her with everything she required, secured a place in a boat which was destined for Nijni, and gave her in charge of a merchant who was going to that place. Before passing the Ural Mountains, which divide Ekaterinburg from Nijni, the travellers were transported on the rivers which rise in the same mountains and run towards the north. They thus journeyed by water till they came to the mountains, to cross which they disembarked. These not being very high in that district, nor difficult to pass, were soon left behind, and they once more embarked on the waters which fall into the Volga. Prascovie, not having sufficient means to travel
by the land, profited by the numerous boats which convey iron and salt by the rivers Tchoussova and Kama. At the mouth of the latter stream, near the Volga, an accident occurred by which she nearly lost her life. During one of the violent storms which are very frequent in these regions, the boatmen, desirous of keeping their bark in the middle of the stream, pulled with great force an immense oar that served as a rudder, and immersed one side of the barge, on which many passengers were seated, before they had time to get out of the way. Three persons were thrown into the river, one of whom was Prascovie. She, however, received no greater hurt than a severe cold, caught in consequence of not being able to change her clothes.
Unfortunately, the merchant who accompanied Prascovie in the early part of her journey from Ekaterinburg had fallen sick in the mountains, and when she arrived at Nijni, she was without friend or protector. This was the first large town which she had ever seen, and it presented to her an aspect more disheartening, and a misery more poignant, than she had felt before. She had braved the dangers of the storm and the desert, but she was not prepared to encounter the solitude of great towns, in which poverty finds itself alone amidst a crowd, and where, as if by some horrible enchantment, the poor behold on all sides eyes which pay no regard to them, and ears that are deaf to their complaints.* In short, Prascovie, during her whole journey, had never felt so discouraged
She sought her never-failing resource, the church, and, as in former cases, not in vain. A nun of a neighbouring convent, filled with pity, conducted her to the abbess, who, receiving her with the utmost kindness, invited her to remain as long as she pleased. This was a fortunate offer, as a violent fever attacked her, which caused her to keep her bed. When convalescent, she went through all the religious offices of the convent, adhering to its rules with the strictest precision. Indeed in this life she found so much happiness, that she resolved, in the event of succeeding in her mission, to become a nun.
Prascovie found it impossible to continue her journey till the winter set in, to render the sledge trains available. But when it arrived, she took leave of the kind abbess (who gave her a letter of recommendation to a friend of hers, Mademoiselle de S.), and started for Moscow in a covered sledge. She arrived at that city safely, and proceeded at once to St Petersburg in the carriage of a merchant, a friend of Mademoiselle de S. Her journey to the capital was not marked by any very striking circumstance. She reached it about
* The city of Nijni-Novgorod (vulgarly called Nijgorod), or Lower Novgorod, is the capital of the important Russian province of the same name. It contains a stationary population of 36,000 persons, besides a vast number of strangers constantly passing through ; for it is the grand entrepôt of trade for the interior of the empire. The city is built on a steep hill 400 feet high.
the middle of February, nearly eighteen months after her departure from Siberia.
Prascovie lodged for a time at the house of the merchant with whom she travelled, as she experienced some difficulty in finding out the residences of two ladies to whom she had letters of introduction-one, the Princess de T an aged and benevolent lady; and the other Madame de - Unfortunately, they both resided at Vassili-Ostrov, on the other side of the Neva. This river was frozen over, but the ice was on the point of breaking up; and from the dangers always dreaded from a rapid thaw, the police forbade any one to cross it. In this strait, she was advised by the merchant at whose house she stayed to get a lawyer to draw up a petition to the Senate, praying a revision of her father's sentence. This was done ; and Prascovie went to deliver it in person. She reached the Senate-house, and penetrated to one of the offices, trembling all the while, through finding herself for the first time amongst such a crowd of men. She presented her petition to one of the secretaries, who, glancing at it coldly, and perceiving it was ill worded and informal, returned it without speaking a word. Presently an old soldier, who acted as doorkeeper, came up to her, and supposing she was a mendicant, took her by the arm and led her to the door.
Still she was not to be daunted, and returned to the Senate-house day after day, placing herself on the stairs, in the hope that at length some good senator would take charge of her supplication. She repeated her visits for fifteen mornings without success, or without any attention being paid to her. Once, indeed, a government officer, who had remarked her perseverance, took her petition from her. She felt a ray of hope. But, alas! instead of retaining the document, the officer took from his pocket a roll of bank-notes, selected one for five roubles, and placing it within the paper, refolded, returned it, and instantly disappeared. This act of kindness, though it disappointed, affected Prascovie much. 'Surely,' she thought in her simplicity, 'this gentleman must be some relation to Madame Milin.'
Prascovie continued her daily attendance at the Senate, without success, till Easter, when it broke up for some weeks. But by this time the swing-bridges which cross the Neva, and which are removed during the flooding season, were replaced, and the merchant's wife drove Prascovie in her droschy to Vassili-Ostrov, to deliver her letter of introduction to Madame de L This lady received her with the utmost affection ; for her story had been already narrated to her in a letter from Madame Milin. She had a relation connected with the court, to whom she offered to introduce Prascovie ; for although she was on ill terms with him at present, yet this was Easter, a season when all family quarrels were made up. Accordingly, Madame de kept Prascovie to dinner, and soon several of the company, previously invited to the peace-making, arrived.
When the relation she had spoken of entered the room, he exclaimed, after the custom in such cases : 'Christos voscres' (Christ is risen). He then embraced the hostess, who replied : 'Voisterio voscres' (In truth he has risen). By this ceremony the previous misunderstanding was effectually made up, and the influential relative received Prascovie-who was now introduced to him—with all the more pleasure. During dinner, Madame de L- detailed the whole of her story, and he promised to use his influence with the court to obtain a repeal of Lopouloff's sentence, as any steps taken through the Senate would occupy a vast deal of time.
Meantime the Princess de T—had been apprised, through Mademoiselle de S. of Moscow, of Prascovie's arrival in St Petersburg, and sent for her to the merchant's house. On arriving at the princess's palace, our heroine was dazzled by the splendour of the apartments, and mistook the gaudily-dressed livery servants for some of the senators she had seen in her frequent attendance at the Senate-house. Her artless wonder and rustic simplicity won the heart of the princess, who, having assigned a fitting apartment to her, determined to use all the interest she possessed in procuring her father's pardon. Through the influence of the chancellor of the empress-mother, that august personage condescended to see her. Prascovie's joy at this news almost deprived her of her senses. On recovering, she offered up a sincere thanksgiving to Heaven.
About six o'clock she was conducted to the imperial palace, dressed in her ordinary costume. While approaching it, she thought of her father's words, which represented the palace so difficult to enter. 'If he could see me now,' she said to her companion ; 'if he knew before whom I am going to appear, how surprised and delighted he would be !'
Without the smallest ceremony, Prascovie was conducted into the presence of the empress-mother. Her majesty received her with affability, and interrogated her with interest respecting her history and her noble enterprise. She replied without timidity, but without boldness. She did not, she said, ask for mercy for her father, for he was innocent of the crime imputed to him ; all she demanded was a revision of his sentence. The empress praised her courage and filial piety, of which she promised to acquaint the emperor ; and finished the gratifying interview by ordering 300 roubles to be paid her for her present necessities.
Prascovie could scarcely believe that the events of the last few days were real, and on awakening the morning after her interview with the empress-mother, to assure herself she had not dreamt what had actually happened, she opened one of her drawers, and was not convinced till she saw the money her imperial benefactress had given her. Shortly afterwards, the dowager-empress not only assigned her an income for life, but presented her to the reigning emperor and his consort. All difficulties were now nearly vanquished.
M. de K., then Minister of the Interior, to whom the emperor remitted Lopouloff's case for revision, was an excellent and benevolent man, who endeavoured to lessen as much as possible the time which the necessary legal forms took ere Lopouloft's recall could be decreed. In this interval Prascovie had become an object of interest to the whole court. She was taken to see all the remarkable places in St Petersburg, and invited to the houses of the highest amongst the nobility.
While her father's case was thus prosperously entertained, she did not forget that of the two prisoners who had encouraged and assisted her while others ridiculed her enterprise. Her court friends, however, advised her by no means to bestir herself in that matter until her father's affair was settled. That blessed event soon followed ; and the emperor sent to inform her that he had transmitted a definitive ukase to Siberia for Lopouloff's release, together with a sum of money sufficient to defray the expense of his journey to the interior of Russia. M. de K., who announced this delightful news, added, that his majesty requested to know if she had anything to ask personally for herself. Without hesitation she solicited the pardon of her two friends. On learning this the emperor was so struck with her generosity in transferring his favours from herself to the two prisoners, that he instantly granted her request, and a few posts after that which bore the ukase for Lopouloff's release, a similar decree for his fellow-prisoners was despatched.
Let us now for a moment remove the scene to Siberia. Lopouloff and his wife mourned the absence of their daughter as one lost to them perhaps for ever. So far from expecting she would succeed in her mission, they feared she would not survive her perilous undertaking. During her long absence, the only consolations they received were administered by the two prisoners so often mentioned. They never failed to instil hope into the bereaved parents, while the rest of the villagers continued to add to their fears by their forebodings. At length the unexpected ukase arrived. Neither Lopouloff nor his wife could for some time believe in the reality of their goodfortune. As soon as Lopouloff's joy had subsided sufficiently to enable him to understand that he was free, he hastened to his two friends to impart the glad tidings to them. At first they received it with the most cordial delight; but when, a moment after, they reflected on the contrast which their own hopeless condition presented, they gave way to a feeling of despair. Lopouloff did all he could to cheer them, and offered a part of the sum sent by the emperor for travelling expenses. This they refused. We do not want it,' was the reply of the elder prisoner; 'I have still the piece of money which your daughter refused at her departure.'
Preparations were soon made for the departure of Lopouloff and his wife from the region of punishment to which they had been so many years condemned. Their first destination was the convent at