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and those who caused suffering. Toward the middle of last century there came forward another class who, at the risk of life and liberty, became the champions of the poor in body and in spirit. The heart-throb of pity which swept over the country from Arkangel to Odessa not only freed the serfs but fostered as well a national art and a national literature. Throughout the troubled years that followed, the best alike in one and in the other has been dedicated to the cause of humanity. Repin's Bargemen of the Volga and Dostoyevsky's Injured and Insulted rank side by side as tributes to the downtrodden. There have been countless martyrs during these days of darkness and distress, but none more consistently heroic than Vladimir Korolenko. It is he who personifies more than any one that surging social conscience which must in the end redeem Russia.

Like Gogol, Korolenko is a Little Russian, and hence came naturally by an unfailing tenderness of heart and a genial, robust outlook, that never forsook him even in the face of incredible hardship. He was born in 1853, at Zhitomir, in Volhynia, the son of a Cossack father and a Polish mother. While he was attending the Technological Institute at St. Petersburg his father died, leaving the family penniless. Poor as he was, Korolenko managed, however, to enter the Petrovsky College of Agriculture in Moscow. Yet he was not there long before he was pounced upon by the police and banished to the Government of Vologda. It was but the beginning of a ten years' persecution, which he bore with unflinching fortitude. Whether forced to live among fanatic Votiaks or semi-savage Yakuts, he always managed to get closer to the human heart and to read more deeply the perplexing mystery of human destiny. Years of loneliness and privation in the most desolate quarters of the Empire could not break his spirit. After being exiled to Tomsk he was permitted to return to European Russia, and was asked to take the oath of allegiance to Alexander III. and to renounce rightful sympathies. This he refused to do, and was immediately sent to the snow-choked forests of Northeast Siberia, where for five years his only

companions were convicts and halfbreeds. In 1885 he was released and settled at Nizhny-Novgorod, devoting his energies to literary and humanitarian pursuits. He subsequently became editor of Russkoye Bagatstvo in association. with the late Constantin Mikhailovsky, and to-day occupies the foremost position in the world of Russian letters.

Korolenko is an exponent of social pity. He has never penned a line that does not thrill with love for human kind or radiate an abiding tenderness for the frail and the forlorn. Instead of being embittered by his experiences, he has been broadened. Among cripples or convicts, among navvies or thieves, along the icebound Lena or the slumbering Volga, in filthy kabak or in tumble-down izba, he has always found sparks of kindness and of courage. He does not concern himself with those who indulge in sentimental self-analysis but with those who are hungry or sick unto death. Women seldom flit across his pages, for women are plastic, adaptable and easily appeased. It is more apt to be a blind child or a man shattered by suffering or blighted by ignorance who becomes his pathetic and appealing hero. There is hardly a character in the entire range of his work that has not been taken direct from the teeming, troubled life about him. has never had to invent a situation nor to manufacture a tragedy. The material for innumerable plots lay seething before his eyes, and heart-racking scenes were daily enacted in his presence. Yet despite everything he has remained a mellow, sunny Little Russian, transfusing all he saw with sympathy and with a playful, endearing commiseration, that nothing could obscure.

He

Makar's Dream, Korolenko's first story of importance, which appeared in the Russkaya Mysl while its author was still in exile, opened the eyes of Russia to a new man and to a new field. It is a prose epic, fanciful, yet real, depicting with colour, precision and expansive humour life among the Yakuts of the Siberian Taiga. The effect of the story was tonic. It came at a time when Tolstoy was confusing the public with My Confession and My Religion, and when Garshin's Red Flower was adding to

the general hysteria. Here at last was a sane, jovial talent, a man who had not forgotten how to laugh. Sketches of a Siberian Tourist followed, and they, together with A Saghalinian, At-Davan, and a score of kindred tales quickly assured Korolenko's reputation. For consummate poetic realism and for pure descriptive beauty, Turgeniev himself never surpassed certain of these sketches, and for poignant humanity they often recall the agonising pages of Crime and Punishment. With later stories the range of character and incident became almost infinite. The grotesque terror of Makar was followed by the tremulous aspiration of little Joachim in The Blind Musician, the demoniac cruelty of Arabin in At-Davan found antithesis in the garrulous solicitude of old Tiburzhy. In Bad Company and A Paradox are two of the most exquisite bits of child analysis in any language, and At Night and The Old Bell-Ringer show a power of evoking the supernatural that has rarely been equalled. The appeal to sympathy which persists through all these stories is infectious, not obvious. It is almost unwillingly that Korolenko touches the heart-strings, and yet he never fails to do so. No words of praise can be too high for the very latest stories which have come from Korolenko's pen-The River at Play and The Siberian Carriers. They rank with his best work, which is, indeed, saying much.

It is natural that a man with Korolenko's civic temperament, his broad political humanism, should at times forsake fiction and devote himself to a closer study of actual conditions. Such is the spirit that prompted him during the great famine to visit the stricken districts, where for months he went from village to village dispensing the meagre aid at his command. A Year of Famine, in which he described his experiences, was a book without literary alloy, and was so fearless a record of fact that it was immediately suppressed by the censor. Korolenko has always loved the restless fermentation of humanity, and frequently journeys to various parts of the Empire in order to mingle with turbulent dock hands or pallid mystics. Pavlovo

Sketches, The Eclipse and Judgment Day are the best among these miscellaneous studies, and are filled with accurate detail and illuminating observation. There are those who pretend that Korolenko has given no sustained picture of society, no work of substantial proportion. They perhaps forget that he has been persistently hounded by the censor, and that Prokhar and the Students, which promised so well, was suppressed directly the first chapters appeared.

From first to last Korolenko has been a fighter. He is the spiritual successor of the great publicist Chernyshevsky, and has always had an abounding contempt for the pious pessimism of Tolstoy. He exalts struggle, the insistent struggle for liberty and enlightenment. Nothing can dim his consuming ardour for justice and for truth nor blight his belief in his fellow man. Only a few years since he rose single-handed to the defence of certain poor Votiaks who were unjustly accused of ritualistic sacrifice, and singlehanded he forced the courts of Ufa to acquit them after they had twice been convicted. Still more recently he resigned from the Academy because his protégé Gorky had been stricken from membership for alleged participation in the student troubles. So ardent a spirit as Korolenko has naturally played a prominent part in the current agitation which is rending Russia asunder or welding her into a stronger unit. On December 4th last he was chosen to preside at the great mass meeting of the Liberals in St. Petersburg, when resolutions were passed demanding constitutional reforms, freedom of speech and a national parliament. In appearance Korolenko recalls to Russians the sovereign figures of the eighties. pallor of his countenance, the calm serenity of his brow and the gentle intensity of his gaze tell their own story. He is even greater as a man than as a writer, and it is as a man that he is worshipped by his countrymen. They wor ship him because he is an individualist, an idealist, because he believes with every apostle of progress that there is many a dawn which has not yet shed its light. Christian Brinton.

The

EASTER EVE

A STORY

BY VLADIMIR KOROLENKO

Translated from the Russian by Henry James Forman

Easter Eve of the year 187-.

Night had already fallen upon the silenced world. The earth, warmed during the day, was now fanned by the sharp breeze of a spring night frost and seemed to be deeply breathing. This exhalation beneath the rays of the glimmering, starspeckled firmament created pale mists, that rose like clouds of incense to meet the coming holiday.

All was still. The small provincial metropolis of N, wrapped in the damp chill, was silently waiting for the first stroke of the cathedral bells. But the town was by no means asleep. In the dusk, in the shadows of the voiceless and depopulated streets you could feel a pent-up expectancy. At times a belated labourer, whom the holiday had all but overtaken at his hard and thankless task, would run by homewards; at times, too, a cabman's team would clatter along; and then again the dumb silence. From the street life had ebbed indoors, into rich mansions and into squalid huts, all aglow with lights, and there it lay still. Över field and city, over all the earth the breeze that blew carried a nameless sound heralding the approaching Sabbath, holiday and rejuvenescence.

The moon had not risen and the city lay darkling on a broad height upon which stood out a building, large and gloomy. The peculiar, severe straight lines of the building were in shadowy outline against the starlit blue; a black gate barely stood out from the dark mass of the wall and four turrets, high and tapering, one at each angle, were silhouetted against the sky.

On a sudden there broke from the high cathedral belfry upon the sensitive air of the brooding night the first ringing stroke of the bells, then the second and the third. Scarcely a moment passed be

fore many bells in many places, with varying tones, rang out, mingled and sang strains that blended in a weird harmony and softly rocked and hovered in the ether. From the gloomy building, also, could be heard a thin, cracked, jarring sound that seemed to tremble in faint hopelessness of rising to the ethereal heights of the mighty accord.

The ringing ceased. The sounds melted into the air, but the previous silence of the night came back to its own. only by degrees; for a long time the plaintive, dying echo wandered through the night like the quivering of an invisible string attuned. In the houses the lights went out; the windows of the churches shone brightly. The earth in 187 was once again preparing to voice the old slogan that conquered the universe-Love and Brotherhood.

Within the black gate of the gloomy building the bolts rattled. Half a platoon of soldiers, with muskets clanking in the darkness, came forth to relieve the guard. They marched up to the corners, and at each post stopped for a moment. From the dark little clump of men a solitary figure would detach itself and walk off with measured step; the man relieved would, in turn, become absorbed by the murky little group. Then the half platoon moved on, circling round the high prison walls. The sentry who was to be posted on the western side was a young recruit, whose country breeding still hung about his clumsy movements. The young face betrayed the keen attention of the tyro about to hold his first responsible place. He stopped with his face toward the wall, and clanking his musket, advanced two steps, faced about, and stood shoulder to shoulder with the man he was relieving. Turning his head toward his relief, the sentry on post recited to the newcomer

in a monotone the standing regula- pacing their round cells like things caged, tions:

"From one corner to the other-to watch-not to sleep, or doze-," the soldier mouthed jerkily, while the recruit listened with attention, a strange look of anxiety in his grey eyes.

"Understand?" spoke up the corporal. "Yes, sir!"

"Well, be careful," sharply; then in milder tones he added:

"Fear nothing, Thadieff, you're not a woman to be afraid of the devil."

"Afraid of the devil?" returned the naïve Thadieff; then, musingly, "something in my heart-a creepy kind of feeling, brothers-"

At this simple, almost childish, confession, laughter was heard among the little troop of soldiers.

"Poor little country wife," remarked the corporal with a kind of pitying contempt. Then, in a more military voice he commanded:

"Carry-arms! March!" The guard, with even tread, disappeared around a corner and was soon out of earshot. The new sentry shouldered his musket and quietly paced the length of the wall. . . .

Inside the prison, as soon as the last stroke of the bell was heard, all was astir. It was a long time since the black and sorry night of the prison had seen so much bustle. It seemed, indeed, as though the holiday had brought with it a rumour of freedom. One after another the doors of the cells opened. Men in long, grey, draggle-tailed cloaks marched two by two in endless files along the corridors and into the prison church, agleam with lights. From the right and from the left they came, mounting the stairs from below, and descending from above. Through the noise of the tramping feet could be heard from time to time the rattle of a musket or the clang of fetters. Within the spacious church the grey throng poured into a compartment separated by a grating of bars and there became still. The windows of the church were also protected with strong iron bars.

The prison itself was empty. Only in the four turrets at the angles, securely locked in, four lonely prisoners were

and every now and then they would listen at their doors to scraps of song that reached them from the church.

In one of the common cells, moreover, upon a bench, lay an invalid. The warden, on hearing of this prisoner's sudden illness as the others were being marched into the chapel, entered his cell, bent over him and looked into his eyes that burned with a strange lustre and gazed into the distance without expression.

"Ivanov!-Listen, Ivanov," the warden addressed him.

The prisoner did not turn his head; he muttered something incomprehensible; his voice was hoarse and the feverish lips moved with pain.

"Hospital to-morrow," ordered the warden curtly and went out, leaving a turnkey at the door of the cell. The turnkey glanced at the prostrate, feverish figure and shook his head.

"Eh, Mr. Tramp, but you've tramped your last this time, sure," he philosophised, and having decided that there was nothing to keep him there, he walked down the corridor to the chapel, and behind the closed door followed the service, kneeling softly at the appointed times.

The desolate, unguarded cell was filled from time to time with the mutterings of the invalid. He was not yet an old man, this invalid; he was large and well built. In his rambling talk he lived again his more immediate past, and his face was distorted with suffering.

Fate had played a queer prank upon this tramp. Over the dangerous Taiga* and mountainous wildernesses, braving a thousand perils, he had walked fully a thousand versts driven by a burning nostalgia, led on by one hope: "To see them —a month—a week-to live with the folks, then the road again for me." Only a hundred versts from his native village he fell into that prison.

But on a sudden the wild mutterings ceased. The tramp opened his eyes and breathed more evenly. In his burning head thoughts of a more soothing kind began to stir.

The sough of the Taïga!

He recognises that sound-musical, *A marshy forest in Siberia.

free. He had learned to know the voices of the forest, the speech of every tree. The lofty pine trees tinkle high above with their dense, dark foliage; the fir trees whisper together impressively; the bright larch waves with supple branch, and the aspen quakes and shivers with frightened leafage. The free birds twitter gaily and the garrulous brook goes bowling turbulently along through stony gullies and secret places of the Taïga. A flock of chattering magpies circles in the air-they always hover over those thickets where the tramp, hidden by the undergrowth, stealthily makes his way through the Taiga.

The invalid seemed actually to smell a breath of the Taïga wind. With a deep sigh he sat up; the eyes gazed into the distance, but suddenly something like consciousness gleamed in them. tramp, an habitual fugitive, saw before him that unusual phenomenon-an open door.

The

A mighty instinct quivered through his whole fever-shaken organism. The symptoms of delirium swiftly disappeared, or else rallied about the solitary image that penetrated the chaos of his mind like a ray of light-the open door.

In a minute he was standing up. It seemed as though all the fire of his inflamed brain swept into the eyes. They gazed ahead with an intentness set and terrible.

Some one coming out of the prison chapel opened the door for a moment. Waves of the melodious singing, softened by distance, struck upon the ears of the tramp and then were heard no more. A tremor of emotion passed over his pale face; his eyes grew dim and in his mind. arose a picture long cherished by memory a quiet night, the whispering of reverential, dark-boughed pines about the church of his native village; a crowd of fellow villagers, fires burning along the river bank and this same singing-he must hurry along in order to hear all that among his own people.

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All this time the turnkey behind the church door in the corridor of the prison kneels and prays with all his heart.

The young recruit, with shouldered

musket, is pacing the length of the wall. The smooth prairie, but lately denuded of the snow, stretches far into the distance before the sentry. A light wind rustling dryly through last year's grass over the steppes forces upon the mind of the soldier a tender, melancholy reflection.

He stopped in his march, stood his musket on the ground, put his hands on the muzzle, his head on his hands and fell to musing. It was still not quite clear to him just why he was here with a gun on this solemn night before Easter, between the prison wall and the empty prairie land. Indeed, he was still a good deal of a moujik, not comprehending much that a soldier ordinarily understands, and it was not for nothing he was nicknamed "Country." It was only a little while ago that he had been free, lord and master of his own field, of his own work. But now a nameless, indefinable dread dogged his every footstep at every moment, and drove the angular peasant nature into the strict routine of the service.

But for the moment he was alone. The empty landscape spreading before him and the cry of the wind in the prairie grass brought upon him a strange drowsiness, and before his eyes floated pictures of home. He too sees a village; there also the wind blows; fires burn about the church and dark pines wave their green tops above it.

At times he starts, and then his grey eyes seem perplexed; what's this? The prairie, a gun, the wall. Reality comes. back to him for a moment, but soon the melancholy whistle of the night wind again conjures up domestic scenes and again the soldier is dozing as he leans upon his gun.

Not far from where stands the sentry a dark object rises on the crest of the wall; it is a human head. .. The

tramp gazes over the broad steppe to the scarce-discernible outline of the distant forest. . . . His chest expands as he inhales eagerly the free, fresh breath of mother-night. Hanging by the hands he softly and noiselessly drops from the wall.

The jubilant sound of bells again wakes the nocturnal stillness. The door

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