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noose, which slipped off his neck when he fell, and he instantly got on his legs and saw an istvostchik in a sledge driving rapidly away. His own istvostchik sat quite still, and made him understand that the other man was drunk, it being a fête day, and that his assault was only intended as a joke. R— was not altogether satisfied with this explanation of the matter, but being in a lonely part of the town, and a good way from home, he at length got into his sledge again, having no suspicion that his own driver was a party to the attack, if a serious one had been intended. He, however, put down the collar of his pelisse, and kept looking over his shoulder to see that no one came up
behind. While his attention was thus occupied, his driver turned suddenly into a dark street, nearly upsetting the sledge against the post at the corner, and almost at the same moment, a rope was suddenly thrown over Mr. R—'s neck from the front, and he was a second time dragged out upon the snow. Before he could rise, three istvostchiks were upon him, and they began stamping on his breast, and rifling his pockets, and on his calling out for the police, one of the men put his hand inside the rope around his neck, and nearly strangled him by twisting it, another thrust a hand into his mouth, but a severe bite made him quickly withdraw it, and R— at the same time succeeded in slipping the rope off his neck, otherwise he would have been undoubtedly mur
dered. To shorten the story, the * scoundrels at length left him for dead, concluding their ill treatment with two or three stamps upon the breast, and robbing him of a gold watch and chain, and two or three hundred roubles, and what was much worse, taking away his pelisse, cap, and gloves : thus exposed, he could not long have survived, in twenty-seven degrees of frost; he was, however, happily able to rise, and he saw the three scoundrels driving away as hard as they could in their sledges. He tied a handkerchief round his head, and knowing where he was, made the best of his way to his lodgings, which were not far off.
He, of course, immediately sent for a surgeon, but it was a period of six weeks before he recovered the effects of his ill-treatment, his face having been severely bruised, and his eyes almost forced out of his head. The police came in the morning to receive his account of the attack made upon him, and a week afterwards, when he was able to leave the house, the master of police sent for him, and made three hundred istvostchiks pass in review before him; he was unable, however, positively to identify the culprits,
* When we were afterwards at Moscow, on returning one night to our hotel, we found the porter in the act of expelling one of these istvostchiks, and literally kicking him out of the house, and our laquais de place observed that the servant was but doing his duty, for that these fellows were in general such rascals, that, as he expressed himself, “ Poor as I I would not trust myself in one of their sledges at night, unless I knew something of the driver, for I should be almost sure to be robbed."
and though five were detained upon suspicion, and further enquiries were made, nothing was eventually discovered, and I need not say that poor R— never recovered any of his property. His pelisse had cost eight hundred roubles, so that with the watch and chain, and the money which was stolen, his loss must have amounted to sixty or seventy pounds. He found afterwards that the attack was premeditated, and intended, not for himself, but for another gentleman, who frequented the same coffee-house, and who was known to carry, habitually, a considerable sum of money in his pocket. The possibility of such an outrage being perpetrated with impunity in the heart of the city, and on a bright moonlight night, a circumstance which I omitted before to mention, does not say much for the vigilance with which the streets of Moscow are watched at night.* The following anecdotes will show that the acuteness of the police is sometimes pretty severely taxed.
A person, dressed in the uniform of a General, came some time ago into the shop of a jeweller at Moscow, I believe that of Mr. Rosenstrauch, the Prussian Consul—and asked to see some of his highest priced diamond rings, saying that he wanted one as a present for a lady to whom he was going to be
* The number of dark lanes with blank walls, and the lonely character of the streets of Moscow, render an efficient patrol extremely requisite, and at the same time, from the vast extent of the city, very difficult to establish. The lighting of the streets is disgracefully bad, except, as I am informed, when the Emperor is present.
married. He was immediately shown a number of . very valuable and splendid rings, which he examined very attentively, seeming much puzzled in his choice. While this was going on, a beggar opened the shopdoor, and the jeweller told him to go away, but the General said, in a compassionate tone, that he had a few copecks which he would give, and beckoning the man, he dropped them into his hat. The beggar began to thank him with the usual whine, but the General cut him short very gruffly and bade him be off; he then resumed his examination of the rings, and at last said that they were all so handsome, that he could not make up his mind which to select, but that he must bring the lady to choose for herself. The jeweller, as he replaced the box, counted over the rings and perceived that one was missing; he asked the General if he had put one in his pocket by mistake; this was denied, and after some further search for the lost ring, he was at last obliged to tax his customer with having stolen it. The General was, of course, highly indignant at the charge, but the jeweller persisted, saying that he should send for the police to search him, which he at last did, though warned by his Excellency of the danger of making a false accusation against a man of his rank.
The General was searched, but the ring was not found, and it was now his turn to become the accuser, by charging the shopkeeper with a false attack upon his character. In the end the affair cost the poor
man two or three thousand roubles before it was settled, in addition to the loss of the ring, which was, perhaps, worth as much more: for the person whom he was accused of defaming was really a general, though his conduct, on this occasion, was certainly
unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,” he having, in fact, stolen the ring, and then got rid of it by dropping it, with the copecks, into the hat of his confederate, the pretended beggar.
The following story records the prowess of a Polish lady, who, not long ago, honoured Moscow with her residence, and who seems to have been a most accomplished swindler. It is said that by this exercise of her talents she realised, in the course of one year, between three and four thousand pounds, all of which she spent in the same period, since economy was not one of her virtues. This lady, on one occasion, being in the occupation of a house, obtained, on credit, a quantity of fire-wood, to the value of five hundred roubles of the best of this she had a considerable quantity piled in her ante-room, as if for
She then sent for a dealer, not her creditor as may be supposed, and asked him if he would like to purchase some wood, as she had an estate about forty versts from Moscow, on which she meant to cut down a large quantity. The man said that he should have no objection to become the purchaser of the whole, if they could agree about the price. said she, “ you had better go down and look at the