Carl Joubert.

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and well-being of his family and of myself. And
when the preliminary salutations were over, Dimitri
Stankevitch demanded an explanation of my presence
in the hotel.

"Your little sister will never forgive you for stay-
ing at a hotel when our house is always ready for
you," he said. His wife was known amongst us as
" my little sister," and one of his children was my

" Sit down and hear Avhat I have to say," I
answered, " and then you will understand why I am
in this hotel instead of at your house."

He took off his sword and his great Nicholaievski
coat and threw them across a chair.

" Go on, my boy," he said.

I told my story from the beginning, omitting no
particulars. Dimitri Stankevitch had met Kolka
on several occasions in my company, but he had not
heard of his fate until I told him.

" Well, what are you going to do ? " he asked.

"I am going to take him out. Do you understand ? "


" Oh, yes, I understand well enough," he answered
slowly, " but how do you propose to set about it ? "

" I thought at first of trying to work it through
the officials in St. Petersburg," I replied, " but the
Tsar and the Procurator and the Holy Synod are
dead against him because his father is an excom-
municant, and I don't think it is of any use to waste
my time and money in that quarter. I suppose,
therefore, I shall have to try some other means.
Now do you understand ? "

I slapped him between his broad shoulders as I
put the question.

" I see that your hands are still strong and able,"
he answered dryly. Then for a few minutes he was
silent, and I could see that he was deep in thoughts
which evidently were vexatious to him, for a frown
setttled down on his face. At last he spoke again.

" Then I suppose you have come here to say
good-bye to us for ever. When next we meet it
will be with the ' Boje Materi ' in heaven."

" Not at all, my friend," I answered. " I have every
intention of coming back to you here, and of tasting
that excellent kolbash and kapusta which your cook
alone knows how to prepare."

I think he resented my levity, for he muttered
something about the English regarding nothing as
sacred except their horses and dogs, and inquiring
the name of the Derby winner with their dying

" And you are going to the end of the world to
try and rescue Kolka," he continued, " in the same
spirit as you would sit down to your beef-steak


pudding. If your little sister knew of it she would

" But there is no need for her to know anything
about it. I shall not tell her."

" Nor I," he assented gravely. He evidently
regarded my attempt with the utmost disapproval,
and I was anxious to convince him of its feasibility.
So I took off my belt and handed it to him.

" That is what I am relying upon to eifect my
purpose," I said. " You can count it, and tell me
if it will be enough."

Dimitri Stankevitch knew as well as I the power
of the rouble throughout Bussia, and when he
had counted the contents of my belt I do not think
that he regarded my venture in quite such a hope-
less light.

" I want you to take it home with you and keep
it safely for me," I said. " In a hotel like this it is
rather an anxiety, and it will be a relief to have it
off my body for a few days."

" But you did not come to Lithuania for the
purpose of giving me your money to take care of,"
said the Ispravnik, taking the belt from my hands.
" What else can I do ? "

" I thought you could tell me where to get pass-
ports," I said. " I want some blank ones that I
can fill in for myself."

" I can get you them," he answered readily.

" No, no, my friend," I exclaimed. I will not take
them from you. If there is going to be trouble over
the matter I am not going to let you in for it. I
only want you to tell me to whom I should apply."


He took out his pocket-book and wrote a name
and address on a leaf, which he tore out and gave
to me, saying :

" I should not advise you to show him the contents
of your belt ! "

I laughed at the notion of exposing so much
money to the avaricious eyes of the official whose
name was inscribed on the paper in my hand. I
knew his class too well for that !

The IsiDvavnih rose and began to buckle on his
sword again.

" Come to supper," he said. " The little sister
will be flattening her nose against the window look-
ing for you."

We walked together to his house. On the way
Dimitri Stankevitch became more cheerful about
my prospects of success.

" You may succeed in getting him out," he ad-
mitted ; " but how are you going to quit the country
afterwards ? "

" That will be easy enough," I replied. " I shall
have a few passports in my pocket."

" Well ! " he exclaimed, laughing. " You are
nothing but a ' bradjaga ' (tramp) ! "

" I have been a 'bradjaga ' all my life," I answered,
" and I am beginning to know something of the road."

With that we arrived at his house and the
" little sister " welcomed me warmly ; and my
god-son rushed at me like a whirlwind, calling me
"my father." We spent a very happy evening
together, and no word was said of the reason of my
visit to the Lithuanian border.


The next day I had an interview with a tall,
long-bearded official of the Meschanskaia Uprava.
From him I obtained four passports and four
" chorosho povidenias " for the sum of 275 roubles.
The "chorosho povidenia" is a State or Govern-
ment good reference ; it is sometimes a more useful
document than a passport, and in large cities it is
a necessity for Russians ; but it is never used by

I made out one passport and one " chorosho
povidenia " for myself. In the passport I figured as
Albert Denmanovitch. Age 32. Hair black. Chin
prominent ; eyes brown, &c. Profession, Doctor of
Medicine and Specialist. From the Lithuanian
Government, City

My *' chorosho povidenia " stated that I had, by
my medical skill, cured all manner of diseases on the
Lithuanian border, and almost raised people from
their graves. Then followed the Government stamp
and seals.

I stowed away my documents in the belt along
with the roubles. And when I took leave of the
obliging official, I was to all intents and purposes a
Russian subject, with a leaning towards pathological

A few days afterwards I called upon my " little
sister" to say farewell. I pretended that I was
going on a yachting cruise in the Baltic, starting
from Riga ; and said that I might not have an
opportunity of writing to her for some time. The
kind little lady was sad at my departure, and baked
all manner of cakes for me to take on my trip, I


felt thoroughly ashamed of myself. But Dimitri
Stankevitch stood by with set jaws and not a sign on
his face to betray the least emotion. He told his
wife that he would accompany me for a short distance
on the railway, and would probably return that

So we left the house together ; and " my little
sister" stood on the steps fluttering her tiny hand-
kerchief to us until we were out of sight.

On the way to the station Dimitri never uttered
a word, and it was not until we had taken our
places in the carriage, and the third bell had rung
for the train to start, that he spoke. He began by
assuring me of his devotion ; but that I had never
doubted. Then he expressed his sorrow for having
thrown cold water on my scheme when we had first
spoken of it at the hotel ; and he assured me that
if, through this venture, I should find myself in the
same boat as Kolka, he would risk all to save me, in
spite of his wife and children.

He was deeply moved, and the tears were in his
eyes when he made me this promise, and I was con-
vinced that he would abide loyally by it if the worst
should happen. However, I would not hear of
failure, and could not see where the great danger he
apprehended lay. I had only to find Kolka, and
then bribe heavily until I had bought his freedom.

So I made light of it to Dimitri ; but he still
regarded me with a kindly, grave face, and
implored me to be careful. Then he produced a
bundle of letters from his pocket and handed them
to me.


" I want you to use these," he said, '* if you need

They were letters of introduction to fourteen
officials in Siberia, giving my name as Dr. Denman-

" Some of them are to men whom I have never
seen," he continued ; " but when you have time I
should like you to read them, and make use of any
that may help you."

I thanked him, and promised that I would use
them if necessary. He was relieved at my accept-
ance of the letters.

" I thought you would not take them," he said ;
" but you need not scruple to use these men to your
own advantage. They are nothing to me, and I care
little for any of them — but I do care for you."

At the next station we separated. I promised to
write to him whenever I could without danger ; and
he told me that I should hear from him at Moscow
and Ekaterinaburg.



I WAS back in St. Petersburg In two days, but I did
not go to the Hotel de France. I had no wish to
meet any of my friends again, and I was only in
St. Petersburg for one night. So I went to a
hotel near the station, and on the following day I
started for Moscow.

I was no longer Carl Joubert, but Dr. Denmano-
vitch, the specialist. I had not shaved myself since
I embarked on the Germanic at New York a month
ago, and my beard was nearly full grown and
shaping itself in the true Russian fashion. My hair
and eyes are dark and my cheek-bones high, so it
was an easy matter to pass myself off as a Russian
in appearance. As to the language, I speak Russian
with almost greater facility than English, and any
accent in pronunciation is unnoticed in Russia,
where the language spoken in one part differs
widely from that of another. But if, in spite of
my physical and linguistic advantages, any one
questioned my nationality, had I not my passport
and chorosho povidenia to prove my identity up to
the hilt ?

My only fear was that old acquaintances might
recognise me In Moscow, and, therefore, I avoided


the haunts of the foreigner and the houses of my
friends. I would have avoided Moscow altogether
if it had been possible ; but there I had to stay
until I could find out to what part of the world they
had transported my Kolka.

Among the letters of introduction which Dimitri
had given me at the last moment was one addressed
to the Governor of Moscow. I made up my mind
that I would go to see him, though it was not clear
to me how I was to extract any information on the
subject of the Siberian prisoners from him with-
out arousing suspicion ; but to remain inactive in
Moscow was worse than useless. I must be pre-
pared to take some risks if I am to find out and
rescue Kolka, and, therefore, I would see what could
be done with the Governor of Moscow.

So at eleven o'clock the following morning I pre-
sented myself at his Excellency's palace and sent in
my letter of introduction. In less than five minutes
I was shown into a well-appointed library. The
Governor himself, a tall, upright man in uniform,
came towards me.

" I thank you, doctor, for your call," he said
graciously. " I see that you arrived in Moscow
some days ago. I am sorry that you did not pre-
sent yourself to me when you first arrived, so that
I could have had the pleasure of making your
acquaintance earlier."

Evidently Dimitri Stankevitch's introduction
carried weight in this quarter.

I made some appropriate ansv/er, and, seeing that
he was busily engaged on his official duties, I rose


to take my leave. He came up to me and laid hi&
hand on my shoulder.

" I hope you will dine with me, Dr. Denmanovitch,
to-night at seven o'clock."

I readily accepted his invitation, and bowed
myself out of the room. The corridors and pas-
sages were crowded with officers and uniformed
officials waiting to transact their business with the
Governor. I passed through them and out once
more into the streets of White Moscow.

I hardly knew whether to be pleased with myself
or not. Perhaps I might, with patience, extract
some useful information from the Governor ; on the
other hand, I might simply be wasting my time.

I was at the palace punctually at seven o'clock.
It was evidently an "official" dinner-party, for
there were several notable men in gorgeous uniforms
assembled when I arrived. His Excellency's wife
was the only lady present, and my astonishment
was great when I was requested to take her in to
dinner. Most decidedly Dimitri's letter of intro-
duction bore weight, and I had become a man of

The conversation was carried on principally in
French, as is usual in Russian '* high life," and was
of a general character. I was called upon by my
neighbour to answer several embarrassing questions.
How did I like Moscow ? For how long was I stay-
ing ? They are inquisitive people, the Russians, and
they will always endeavour to find out all about a
stranger by cross-examination, more especially when
the stranger is treated as a man of importance.


I replied that I was in Moscow for the first time,
;and that my stay would not be of long duration, as
I was visiting the hospitals in the larger towns
throughout Russia.

After dinner there was some music. His Excel-
lency's German governess had a fine voice, and she
sang several songs to the delight of the company.
I think I should have enjoyed that dinner-party if
it had not been for the name of Denmanovitch.
But saddled with a false name, to which I had not
yet become accustomed, I felt ill at ease.

Before leaving, the Governor asked me it he
could do anything to assist me in my researches.
I thanked him for his kindness, and was hesitating
in my mind whether or no I should ask for per-
mission to visit the prisons, when he made the
suggestion himself.

" Perhaps it might interest you to go round the
prison wards," he said casually ; " there is the
' Pugatchev,' you might find something there to
interest you."

Again I thanked him, and accepted his offer with
as little show of eagerness as possible. He wrote
down my address, and promised to send a dentchik
with the necessary permits to my hotel in the

At half-past ten o'clock on the following morning
an orderly presented himself with an oblong en-
velope in his hand. I took it from him, and he
saluted and retired, whilst I hurriedly tore open
the envelope.

And, behold, here was the permit for me to enter


and examine all the hospitals, prisons, and institu-
tions in Moscow !

In the afternoon I hailed a droshJca and drove to
the Central Prison.

My permit, signed by the Governor, assured me
of the most obsequious attention on the part of the
prison staff. A warder and another official were
told off to conduct me to every department, and
give me any information I required.

I was shown the "Pugatchev" with its towers
and strongholds where prisoners undergoing penal
servitude for life are kept ; then the cells of crimi-
nals who have been awarded lesser sentences ; and,
finally, the prisons where those who had been sen-
tenced to penal servitude in Siberia are detained
until there is a sufficient number to make up a
holshoia partia, or gang, for transport to their desti-
nation. It may easily be imagined with what
anxiety I scanned the faces of the men in this
department ; and I hardly knew whether I was
glad or sorry when I failed to find Kolka among

" How many prisoners a year do you send to
Siberia ? " I asked my guide.

" It is impossible for me to say, Bareen," the man
answered. " Sometimes there are so many that we
cannot find accommodation for them whilst they are
awaiting transport. When the railway to Siberia
is complete it will be a simple matter, and the prisons
along the road will not then become so congested."

" And how many transports do you make in a
year ? " I asked.


*' That is also a difficult question to answer. Two
years ago we made only four transports ; last year
we had five. These men here will form the second
this year."

I felt that I was upon the right tack, and I con-
tinued my cross-examination.

" When did your last transportation take place ? "
I asked casually,

" About seven weeks ago, your High-born."

" Well," I said, *' I cannot understand why people
place themselves in such an unenviable position.
But I suppose most of your prisoners are from the
lowest order of the people."

The warder looked at me with an amused smile,
he seemed to think me a very ingenuous person.
Then he explained that nine- tenths of the prisoners
for Siberia were " politicals," who are mostly highly
educated men — lawyers, doctors, and students, and
even professors.

" For my part," he said, " I am sometimes thankful
that I am an uneducated man when I see to what
education brings some of them. In our last trans-
port for Siberia we had eighteen doctors, more than
forty professors, and about eighty students. The
common people are just the murderers and general
criminals, but never those pestilent ' politicals.' "

I had found out all that I wanted from the prison.
What remained to be discovered must be sought
outside the grim walls of the Krepost. So I deter-
mined to leave Moscow, and to endeavour to
overtake the " rota " of convicts who had seven
weeks start of me on the Siberian road. If Kolka


had been already sent on, he must be with that
" rota."

But before quitting Moscow I went once more to
call on the Governor, and thanked him for his kind-
ness. He was very cordial, and gave me a few
letters of introduction, which were not of much
importance, and bade me good-bye.

I returned to my hotel, where I found a letter
awaiting me. It was in the handwriting of Dimitri
Stankevitch, and the envelope was fastened down
with four seals. I broke them open, and found a
letter and an enclosure. The letter ran :

"You must leave Moscow at once and go to
Yaroslaff, never mind what plans you have made.
I enclose a letter of introduction to in Yaros-
laff. Go to him as soon as you get there. Wire me
to my office that you will do so."

So I went out to the telegraph office and wired :

" I start for Yaroslaff to-day in accordance with
your instructions."



When I arrived in Yaroslaff I wasted no time
before going to the official for whom the Ispravnik
had sent me a letter of introduction.

He was an elderly gentleman with eye-glasses,
and he wore a long surtuk with gold epaulettes.
He rose from his seat and greeted me kindly when I
entered. Then he called his orderly.

"I can see nobody," he said to the man. "You
understand, I am in to nobody

He closed the door and led me to a comfortable
corner, where we both sat down. He opened the
conversation with the usual kind inquiries after my
health ; and then he astonished me slightly by
asking how his Excellency the Governor of Moscow
had treated me, and whether his wife and family
were well.

I told him how kind his Excellency had been, and
that he had asked me to dinner at the palace, and
given me permits to visit the hospitals and prisons
in Moscow. Then I launched forth on other topics.
All the time I was talking the old man sat quite
silent, looking me through and through. When at
last I came to the end of my remarks he looked me
straight in the eyes, and said :


" Doctor, you have made up your mind to find a
certain political prisoner ? "

His words staggered me. There were only two
men in all Russia who knew of my determination,
Dr. Bogdanovitch and Dimitri Stankevitch — and I
was absolutely certain that neither of them would
betray me. But this affable old gentleman spoke
with the utmost confidence of my intentions. To
deny the truth of his statement would be futile ;
but I must not commit myself So I answered :

•' Yes, sir."

" Of course," he continued, "I am not asking
what your intentions may be after you have met
that particular political prisoner. But I can assure
you that you need fear nothing from me. I happen
to know all about it. I used to know old Dr. Bog-
danovitch fifteen years ago — I remember him well."

He paused, as though his mind were carried back
by a train of recollections into the past.

** If I may be allowed I will offer you my advice,"
he continued at last.

I begged him to proceed.

" Young Dr. Bogdanovitch has been sentenced to
five years in Siberia ' voilnoie poselenia' (^.e., trans-
portation without hard labour and without confine-
ment in prison). He, in fact, will not have a hard
time of it at all. Being a doctor he may be favoured
in many ways. Under the circumstances is it worth
while to interfere ? "

I stated emphatically that I considered it worth
while, and that I intended to take young Dr. Bog-
danovitch out of Bussia.


He laughed good-naturedly at my enthusiasm,
and admitted candidly that there may be happier
lands than E,ussia to live in.

" But, I warn you," he said, " that you must be
prepared to rough it if you are going to find him.
You will have to travel beyond the limits of the
railways, and the roads are bad."

" I am prepared to walk all the way if necessary,"
I answered.

" Very good, my friend," he continued, and I knew
that he was convinced of my determination, " since
you are bent on it, may I still offer my advice ? "

I expressed myself grateful, and he went on.

" First, then, you must make straight for Irkutsk,
though your friend may not arrive there for several
months. Secondly, under no circumstances must
you try to intercept your friend on the road. You
may not endanger yourself b}^ doing so, but you
will endanger your friend, and render your mission
abortive. I will give you a letter of introduction to
the Governor-General of Irkutsk, and you must do
all you can to get in his good graces — there are a
hundred ways of doing that. And you must con-
tinue your scientific researches, and thereby gain
entry into any place you choose. Lastly, and most
important of all, let your name be what it really is,
and your country too. Let your name be Carl
Joubert, of England, and not Dr. Denmanovitch, of
Lithuania. And let it be so from this time forth.
As to the rest," the old man concluded kindly, " may
the Master and Great Architect of the World help


I was already past the stage of articulate sur-
prise ; I could only wonder vaguely to myself how
it was that this man knew, not only of my plans
but also my name and nationality. That he was
kindly disposed towards me there was no doubt in
my mind ; that I must act upon his advice was
imperatively impressed upon me by the letter which
I had received from Dimitri Stankevitch. What
troubled me was the uncertainty as to the source
from which the old gentleman had obtained his
information. If Dimitri had made a confidant of
him alone, all was well. But there was a dread in
my mind that possibly Dimitri had communicated
my story to him through a third party, and had
thus put the fate of Kolka and myself at the mercy
of some man who might, in his cups or out of them,
betray our secret.

Perhaps it was an unworthy thought on my part ;
but I argued — if Dimitri had told my story to the
old official at Yaroslaff then why not to another '^
If three people knew it, then why not the Tsar and
the whole of Russia? My anxiety on this point
was very great, and I was resolved that I must find
out the truth before I left Yaroslaff.

Three days after my interview with the official I
received an invitation from him to dinner. I ac-
cepted it gladly, as I should probably thus have an
opportunity of questioning him on the subject.

I found that the old gentleman was from the
Baltic provinces. He was born in Mitau, and came
of an old aristocratic German family. He had re-
ceived a good education, and had served in the


army, being promoted step by step until he attained
to the exalted position which he then held. He was
a man of refinement and gentle disposition, very
unlike the sealed pattern official bully so common
throughout Russia.

His wife was also of German extraction. She
came from Window, about seven miles from Mitau,
and was the daughter of a certain Baron Popp who

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Online LibraryCarl JoubertRussia as it really is → online text (page 10 of 18)