« ForrigeFortsett »
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.
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.
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 to say none 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
pole procuring us admission to the open centre-space, we have been able to drive rapidly up and down the street, so as to pass in review the two lines of sledges on either side. The weather during the whole week has been most beautiful,--a hard frost and a bright sun. The Tamboff promenaders, however, instead of enjoying the fine and pleasant portion of the day, do not begin to appear till about four o'clock, when the sun is not very far from the horizon. By about five o'clock the street is crowded, and the sledgers continue patiently to glide up and down till nearly seven.
This inconvenient fashion arises, I presume, from the Russian habit of wasting two or three hours of day-light in sleeping after an early dinner. The lower orders consider it most unlucky not to appear in a sledge at the promenade at least once during the carnival; thinking, as I am told, that it helps them on their way to heaven; the forfeiture of which it is also said they fear to risk if they omit to get drunk in the course of the week. Be this
there are few among them who do not scrupulously avoid all difficulty on this score; and during the two last days happy is the master who has a cook sober enough to dress his dinner, or a servant steady enough to place it on the table.
On Thursday there was a public assembly, the last ball of the season, and an extremely dull affair. Yesterday there was a masquerade for the servants,
small traders, &c. We went with some friends into the gallery to witness the amusement, and the decorum, and even politeness, which prevailed was quite as great as among the more fashionable society which had appeared in the same room the night before.
The ladies' maids were dressed in imitation of their mistresses, and for the most part wore neither mask nor fancy dress.
The men were, however, equipped in general in various grotesque costumes, being disguised by veils placed instead of masks, to hide their features; these were, however, removed in general as the wearers became hot with dancing. Waltzes, quadrilles, and Polonaises were executed with tolerable success, but the national dance, which was frequently repeated, was the great attraction of the evening. This is performed by two persons at a time, and is a sort of pantomime representing a courtship. The partners are placed opposite to one another about seven or eight feet apart; the gentleman first advances with many graceful and winning steps to his fair vis-à-vis, who remains in her place; he then figures in various attractive attitudes before her, but in vain, as she turns brusquely round and rejects him, upon which he finally retires. It is now the lady's turn to make similar advances, which, of course, are received in the same manner with demonstrations of scorn. This alternate advance and retreat is carried on for some time; the talent of the performers consisting in the