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preserve the impress of the sorrow which bows
bliss of beholding my children in all its purity ? fettered by reason, is soaring free, does the soul
CHAPTER III. A dream of home-Murder of a wife by her husband
Barbarous notions of matrimony-An Ostiak cradle -Zarutchaï cemetery at night-Walk through an underwood—The ideal and the every-day world.
ONE night, before going to bed, I prayed most fervently to God, that I might be permitted once more to see my children, though it should be in a dream ; and the all-bountiful Father granted my prayer. I did see my dear Paulina and my dear little Victoria. But why was it that my dream proved such an imperfect illusion ? Why did I not enjoy the consolation in full, and the
even in dreams, when imagination, un
it down? What felicity would it have been to have lived again, though but in a dream, among my dear children, with a heart full of joyous feelings, and relieved for the moment from all sense of grief. And of a verity, the pleasures of real life are akin to dreams, as fleeting and as ideal. Nor are our sorrows and trials permanently painful. Often in the midst of the greatest anguish, sufficient to overwhelm the stoutest heart, I have experienced a power of reaction which made me, as it were, equal to my weight of suffering ; and if it did not impart complete resignation, at least reconciled me to existence. When that aid has been wanting, I have felt an insupportable weakness, and been ready to sink under the load of hardship. At such times I would exclaim: “Oh, God ! if by this despondency I should offend Thee-offend Thee who art Almighty- mercifully pardon the infirmity of a creature who is all feebleness; or rather inspire my heart with that assurance and courage, which we can expect only from Thy hand.”
In the course of September an event occurred here, horrible to relate, and which filled the whole
town with consternation. One of the inferior officials of the police, a Russian, became inspired with hatred of his handsome, good, and virtuous wife, heightened by the influence of another woman, whom he kept in his house. The unhappy wife suffered persecutions of all sorts from her reprobate husband, who refused her and her children the commonest necessaries of life, while all his income was spent on his mistress or in drinking-for he was an habitual drunkard. In the midst of this misery, his wife gave birth to a child.
On such occasions, it is the custom for parties visiting the mother to present her with gifts in money, which, on their departure, are usually deposited on the bed. In this manner, a considerable sum had been presented for the poor woman's use; and the visits being ended, the husband aware of the fact, demanded of her all the money, which she, having long been deprived of all assistance from him, and considering it as a donation from her friends to herself, refused to give up. This unexpected resistance on the part of his wife, who was very
was very mild and obedient, and had never before opposed his wishes, put him in such a rage, that without the
least regard to her state of health, he snatched up
the ramrod of his musket, and beat her with it until she gave up the money.
Next day, in consequence of this ill-treatment, the wife died. The public felt horrified and indignant at the husband's brutal conduct, and severely commented upon it. But when at her funeral they saw him sorrowfully following her coffin with loud lamentations, enumerating, on the one hand, all her excellent qualities, her patience, her habits of industry, and all her other virtues ; and, on the other
the other hand, condemning himself for his passion and anger, and protesting his repentance for having so unjustly slain her, the affectionate mother of his children, they were not only disarmed of their just anger, but, on hearing him thus spontaneously confess his guilt and do justice to the memory of his unfortunate wife, they even felt commiseration for him.
With regard to matrimony, it must be said, that the notions prevalent on this subject at Berezov are still barbarous.
It may be true that the inhabitants, who are of Russian extraction, do not pay the so-called kalim-that is,
do not purchase their wives with money; but it is the received custom that a woman, after she is married, is the absolute property of her husband, and nobody is held justified in calling him to account for any. abuse of the right vested in him. Such abuse, therefore, is by no means a rare occurrence, and I have heard many instances related of husbands who, either from drunkenness or in a fit of passion, have murdered their wives. The public certainly are struck with horror at these atrocities, and the murderer is generally condemned for his inhumanity; but nobody comes forward to propose that the perpetrator of such a barbarous act should be brought before a court of justice, and rendered accountable for the crime he has committed against society.
As September advanced, we were released from the constant presence of Madame X-M, who, to our great satisfaction, took other apartments. A day or two afterwards, a married Ostiak couple, who had been living at a distance of about fifty versts from Berezov, arrived in the town with a new-born infant, to have it baptized. The child was but six days old, and