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wood.” “I will go to-morrow," said he, “but I should wish first to know whether we are likely to deal.”

The lady then named the extent of ground which she meant to clear, and describing the quality of the wood as most excellent, said that the price which she asked was forty thousand roubles. “Well,” said the tradesman, “ that is rather too much, but if I find that the article answers your description, I shall not mind offering five-and-thirty thousand.” The lady said that as she wanted a sum of money,

she would not dispute about a trifle, though the price she at first asked was little enough; she, however, pressed strongly for an immediate conclusion to the business, and offered to take the tradesman down in her carriage that evening into the country to see the wood. He, however, declared that he was too busy then to leave home, but that he would go the next day: upon this, she replied that she could not wait, and that she must therefore try to deal with some one else. At length the man, considering, from the description which he had received of the wood, that the purchase was likely to turn out profitable, said, that as they were so nearly agreed about terms, he should wish to conclude the bargain at once, and that he would go the following day to satisfy himself, and examine the wood, begging the lady, in the mean time, to take some hand-money as an earnest. Το this proposal, however, she refused to accede, insisting

to

that the man should accompany her into the country that evening if he intended to deal with her.

The conversation went on in this manner for some time, the tradesman assuring her that he could not leave his business that day, and the lady urging the point, till at length a happy idea appeared to strike her, and she said, “ After all, perhaps it is unnecessary for

you go down at once to my estate, for you can judge of the wood by this sample,” showing him the pile in the ante-room: “I must tell you, however, that this is merely some inferior stuff which I am cutting for my own use."

The dealer was delighted with the specimen thus pointed out, and the wood for sale being, as he was assured, of very much better quality, he determined not to lose so good a bargain, and therefore said that he felt quite satisfied, and would close at once with the lady's offer, if she would accept hand-money, according to the Russian custom, and consider the business as settled.

“ No,” said she, “I am in need of money certainly, and for that reason I consent to take a low price for my wood, but I want a considerable sum, and two or three hundred roubles will be of no use to me.” “Well, madam," said the dealer, “I shall not be easy unless the bargain is struck, so I must beg of you to take this on account,” handing her notes to the amount of six thousand roubles. The money was with some difficulty received, and the unfortunate victim departed well

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satisfied. Another tradesman was immediately sent for, who bought for three hundred roubles ready money, the unpaid-for stock of wood which had played so useful a part, and the lady, of course, lost no time in shifting her quarters.

Before this the police had been long in search of her for similar exploits, and, at length, a superior officer having discovered her residence, determined that she should not escape, and went himself with the men to apprehend her. He was received at the door of the house by a maid-servant, who said her mistress was at home, and begged the gentleman to walk in. The police-master desired his men to wait at the door, and was himself shown into a room, where he waited for some time, but no lady made her appearance. Growing suspicious, he determined to search the house at once; but, on reaching the door of the room, he found himself locked in. Of course, on making this discovery, he kicked and called loudly, until not only his own assistants, but some of the lodgers in the house came to see what was the matter. As soon as the officer was released from durance, he began to enquire for Madame—the woman of whom he was in search.

Why,” said the people of the house, “did not you see her? She spoke to you herself at the door, and showed

you

into this room. It is unnecessary to add, that she was no longer to be found.

243

LETTER XVIII.

The Carnival — Bleenies - Ice-hills — A sledge promenade - A mas

querade-A Russian dance-A public dinner.

Tamboff, February 24, 1838. We have now arrived nearly at the conclusion of the carnival, which ends to-morrow (Sunday) at midnight, since Lent in the Greek church begins not on Ash-Wednesday, but on the Monday before. Indeed, the carnival-week is, strictly speaking, a commencement of the fast, or a sort of preparation for it; for the use of meat is forbidden at this time, though eggs, milk, and butter are allowed.* This, however, is a distinction which is seldom or never observed by the higher classes, who generally content themselves with abstaining from animal food during a single week of Lent, usually the first or the last. The traders and peasants are, as I have already told you, extremely rigid in observing this and all other rules of the church. One of the

* The week before Lent is called butter-week in Russ.

to say

none

as

great amusements of the carnival is eating bleenies ; a bleeny being a kind of cake which is somewhat like an English crumpet, and is eaten with butter. This luxury was, I presume, originally invented as a compensation for the loss of meat during the extra week of fast which the Greek church imposed on its members. The carnival is the season in which ice-hills are chiefly in request in Russia, but I am sorry

have been erected here this winter, and the only specimen I have seen is a very small one made in the court-yard of a private house for the amusement of the children. For the three last days, as

well

on Sunday, there have been grand promenades in the principal street, at which nearly all the inhabitants of the town have appeared parading up and down in sledges of every description, at a foot’s-pace, in two rows like the lines of carriages in Hydepark on a Sunday, when Hyde-park was in its glory. Order is maintained by a number of policemen, aided by a few mounted gens-d'armes, and the centre of the street is reserved for sledges with poles instead of shafts, since these are dangerous in the lines, as in the case of a sudden stoppage, the point of the pole may run against the back of the person in the sledge next before.

We have joined the procession more than once with a large party, in a sledge holding ten or twelve people, and drawn by four horses, and our

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