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pital records do not, by any means, represent the whole aggregate of sickness in the Kara penal settlements. Many convicts of the free command lie ill in their own little huts or cabins, and even in the prison kameras there are scores of sick whose cases are not regarded as serious enough to necessitate their removal to a hospital that is perhaps overcrowded already. A convict in the early stages of scurvy may therefore lie in a prison kamera for a week or two, poisoning with his foul, diseased breath the air that must be breathed by men who are still comparatively well.

After visiting all the kameras in the men's prison, we came out at last into the pure, cold, delicious air, crossed the court-yard, went through another gate in the stockade, and entered the women's prison—a similar but smaller log building, which contained two large cells opening into each other. These rooms were well warmed and lighted, were higher than the cells in the men's prison, and had more than twice as much air space per capita; but their sanitary condition was little, if any, better. The air in them had perhaps been less vitiated by repeated respiration, but it was so saturated with foul odors from a neglected water-closet that one's senses could barely tolerate it. The floor was uneven and decayed, and in places the rotten planks had either settled or given way entirely, leaving dark holes into a vacant space between the floor and the swampy ground. Into these holes the women were evidently in the habit of throwing slops and garbage. I went and stood for a moment over one of them, but I could see nothing in the darkness beneath; and the damp air, laden with the effluvium of decaying organic matter that was rising from it, seemed to me so suggestive of typhoid fever and diphtheria that I did not venture to take a second breath in that vicinity. The kameras in the women's prison had no furniture of any kind except the plank sleeping-platforms, which, of course, were entirely destitute of bedding. I did not see in either room a single pillow or blanket. In these two cells were imprisoned 48 girls and women, 6 or 7 of whom were carrying in their arms pallid, sickly-looking babies.

At every step in our walk through the two prisons Major Potulof was besieged by unfortunate convicts who had complaints to make or petitions to present. One man had changed names with a comrade on the road while intoxicated, and had thus become a hard-labor convict when he should have been merely a forced colonist, and he wanted his case investigated. Another insisted that he had long since served out his full prison term and should be enrolled in the free command. Three more

declared that they had been two months in prison and were still ignorant of the nature of the charges made against them. Many of the convicts addressed themselves eagerly to me, under the impression, apparently, that I must be an inspector or "reviser" sent to Kara to investigate the prison management. In order to save Major Potulof from embarrassment and the complainants from possible punishment, I hastened to assure them that we had no power to redress grievances or to grant relief; that we were merely travelers visiting Kara out of curiosity. The complaints, and the manifestly bad condition of the prisons, seemed to irritate Major Potulof, and he grew more and more silent, moody, and morose as we went through the kameras. He did not attempt to explain, defend, or excuse anything, nor did he then, or at any subsequent time, ask me what impression the Ust Kara prisons made upon me. He knew very well what impression they must make.

In another stockaded yard, adjoining the one through which we had passed, stood the political prison for women; but Major Potulof could not take us into it without the permission of the gendarme commandant, Captain Nikolin. From all that I subsequently learned with regard to this place of punishment, I have little doubt that, while it is cleaner and less overcrowded than the common-criminal prisons, it does not rank much above the latter in comfort or in sanitary condition.

Early Tuesday afternoon we visited the Middle Kara prison, which was perhaps the best one we inspected at the mines. It was distant from the Lower Diggings about three miles, and was reached by a road that ran up the right bank of the Kara River through a desolate, snowy valley, dotted here and there with the dilapidated huts and cabins of the free command. More wretched and cheerless places of abode than these can hardly be imagined. Readers who remember the so-called "shanties on the rocks" in the upper part of New York City can form, perhaps, with the aid of the illustration on page 172, some faint idea of their appearance. The best of them could hardly bear comparison with the poorest of the Irish laborers' houses that stand, here and there, along our railroads, while the worst of them were mere dog kennels of driftwood and planks, in which it was almost incredible that human beings could exist throughout a Siberian winter.

The ostensible object of organizing a free command in connection with the Kara prisons was to encourage reformation among the convicts by holding out to them, as a reward for good behavior, the hope of obtaining release from confinement and an opportunity to better their condition. It does not seem to me, how

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and unprotected-in the free com-
mand, results necessarily in great
demoralization. Such wives and chil-
dren are supported-or at least
aided to exist by the Government,
with the hope that they will ultimate-
ly exert a beneficial domestic influ-
ence over their criminal husbands
and fathers; but the results rarely
justify official anticipations. The
women and girls in a great majority
of cases go to the bad in the penal
settlements, even if they have come
uncorrupted through two or three
hundred overcrowded étapes and
forwarding prisons. There is little
inducement, moreover, for a convict
in the free command to reform and
establish himself with his family
in a comfortable house of his own,
because he knows that in a compar-
atively short time he will be sent
away to some other part of Siberia as
a "forced colonist," and will lose all
the material results of his industry
and self-denial. He generally tries,
therefore, to get through his term
in the free command with as little
labor and as much vicious enjoy-
ment as possible. Hundreds, if not
thousands, of convicts look forward
with eagerness to enrollment in the
free command merely on account of the op-
portunities for escape that it affords. Every sum-
mer, when the weather becomes warm enough
to make life out of doors endurable, the free
command begins to overflow into the forests;
and for two or three months a narrow but
almost continuous stream of escaping con-
victs runs from the Kara penal settlements
in the direction of Lake Baikal. The signal
for this annual movement is given by the
cuckoo, whose notes, when first heard in the
valley of the Kara, announce the beginning
of the warm season. The cry of the bird is
taken as an evidence that an escaped convict
can once more live in the forests; and to run
away, in convict slang, is to "go to General
Kukushka for orders." (Koo-koosh'ka is the
Russian name for the cuckoo.) More than 300
men leave the Kara free command every year
to join the army of "General Kukushka";
and in Siberia, as a whole, the number of run-
away exiles and convicts who take the field in
response to the summons of this popular officer
exceeds 30,000. Most of the Kara convicts who
"go to General Kukushka for orders" in the
early summer come back to the mines under
new names and in leg-fetters the next winter;
but they have had their outing, and have
breathed for three whole months the fresh, free

A CONVICT OF THE FREE COMMAND SURREPTITIOUSLY
WASHING OUT GOLD.

air of the woods, the mountains, and the steppes.
With many convicts the love of wandering
through the trackless forests and over the great
plains of Eastern Siberia becomes a positive
mania. They do not expect to escape alto-
gether; they know that they must live for
months the life of hunted fugitives, subsisting
upon berries and roots, sleeping on the cold
and often water-soaked ground, enduring hard-
ships and miseries innumerable, and facing
death at almost every step. But, in spite of all
this, they cannot hear in early summer the first
soft notes of the cuckoo without feeling an in-
tense, passionate longing for the adventures and
excitements that attend the life of a brodyag
(brod-yag', a vagrant or tramp).

"I had once a convict servant," said a prison official at Kara to me," who was one of these irreclaimable vagrants, and who ran away periodically for the mere pleasure of living a nomadic life. He always suffered terrible hardships; he had no hope of escaping from Siberia; and he was invariably brought back in leg-fetters, sooner or later, and severely punished; but nothing could break him of the practice. Finally, after he had become old and gray-headed, he came to me one morning in early summerhe was then living in the free commandand said to me, 'Bahrin, I wish you would

please have me locked up.' 'Locked up!' said I. 'What for? What have you been doing?' 'I haven't been doing anything,' he replied, 'but you know I am a brodyag. I have run away many times, and if I am not locked up I shall run away again. I am old and grayheaded now, I can't stand life in the woods as I could once, and I don't want to run away; but if I hear General Kukushka calling me I must go. Please do me the favor to lock me up, your High Nobility, so that I can't go.' I did lock him up," continued the officer, "and kept him in prison most of the summer. When he was released the fever of unrest had left him, and he was as quiet, contented, and docile as ever."

There seems to me something pathetic in this inability of the worn, broken old convict to hear the cry of the cuckoo without yielding to the enticement of the wild, free, adventurous life with which that cry had become associated. He knew that he was feeble and broken; he knew that he could no longer tramp through the forests, swim rapid rivers, subsist upon roots, and sleep on the ground, as he once had done; but when the cuckoo called he felt again the impulses of his youth, he lived again in imagination the life of independence and freedom that he had known only in the pathless woods, and he was dimly conscious that if not prevented by force he "must go." As Ulysses had himself bound in order that he might not yield to the voices of the sirens, so the poor old convict had himself committed to prison in order that he might not hear and obey the cry of the cuckoo, which was so intimately associated with all that he had ever known of happiness and freedom.

It may seem to the reader strange that convicts are able to escape from penal settlements garrisoned and guarded by a force of a thousand Cossacks, but when one knows all the circumstances this ceases to be a matter for surprise. The houses of the ticket-of-leave convicts in the free command are not watched; there is no cordon of soldiers around the penal settlements; and it is comparatively an easy matter for a convict who is not under personal restraint to put into a gray bag a small quantity of food saved from his daily ration, tie a kettle to his belt, take an ax in his hand, and steal away at night into the trackless forest. It is a well-known fact, moreover, that many prison officials wink at escapes because they are able to turn them to pecuniary account. This they do by failing to report the runaways as "absent," by continuing to draw for weeks or months the clothing and the rations to which such runaways would be entitled if present, and by selling to the local representatives of Jewish speculators the food and garments thus acVOL. XXXVIII.—24-25.

quired. Not infrequently these speculators have contracts to furnish prison supplies, and they fill them by reselling to the Government at a high price the very same flour and clothing that have just been stolen from it by its own officials. To an unscrupulous prison warden every dead or runaway convict is a source of steady revenue so long as his death or flight can be concealed and his name carried on the prison rolls. Under such circumstances, energetic measures to prevent the escape of criminals or to secure their recapture could hardly be expected.

The prison of Middle Kara, which is situated in the penal settlement of the same name, is a one-story log building of medium size, placed in such a way that one of its longer sides stands flush with the line of the street, while the other is inclosed by a high stockade so as to form a nearly square yard. It did not seem to me to differ much in appearance or plan from the prison at Ust Kara; but it was in better sanitary condition than the latter, and was evidently of more recent construction. As nearly all its complement of prisoners were at work in the upper gold placer when we arrived, I could not determine by inspection whether or not it would be overcrowded at night. Major Potulof told me, in reply to a question, that the number of criminals confined in it was 107. At the time of our visit, however, its kameras contained only a few men, who had been excused from hard labor on account of temporary disability, or who had been assigned to domestic work such as sweeping or cooking. The atmosphere of the kameras was heavy and lifeless, but it seemed to be infinitely better than the air in the Ust Kara prison, and I could breathe it without much repugnance. By fastening against the walls over the sleeping-platforms large fresh boughs of hemlock and pine, an attempt had apparently been made to disguise the peculiar odor that is characteristic of Siberian prisons. Between these boughs, in some of the kameras, I noticed, tacked against the logs, rectangular cards about twenty inches long by twelve inches wide, bearing, in large printed letters, verses from the New Testament. The only ones that I can now remember were: "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out," and "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Whence these scriptural cards came I do not know, but there seemed to me to be a strange and almost ghastly incongruity between the dark, grimy prison walls and the festal decorations of aromatic evergreens — between the rough plank sleeping-benches infested with vermin, and the promise of rest for the weary and heavy laden. How great a boon even bodily rest would be to the hard

because they ought to be repeated until the Russian Government shows some disposition to abate such evils.

labor convicts was shown in the pitiful attempts they had made to secure it by spreading down on the hard sleeping-benches thin patchwork mattresses improvised out of rags, cast-off foot- After we had finished our inspection of the wrappers, and pieces cut from the skirts of their cells in the Middle Kara prison, we made an gray overcoats. Not one of these mattresses examination of the kitchen. Hard-labor concontained less than twenty scraps and rem- victs at Kara receive a daily ration consisting nants of old cloth, while in some of them there of three pounds of black rye-bread; about four must have been a hundred. They all looked ounces of meat, including the bone; a small like dirty "crazy-quilts" made out of paper- quantity of barley, which is generally put into rags in a poor-house, and they could hardly the water in which the meat is boiled for the have made any appreciable difference in the purpose of making soup; and a little brick hardness of the plank sleeping-platforms. A tea. Occasionally they have potatoes or a few man might as well seek to obtain a comfortable leaves of cabbage; but such luxuries are bought night's rest on a front-door step by interposing with money made by extra work, or saved by between it and his tired body a ragged and petty "economies" in other ways. This ration dirty bath-towel. There can be no reasonable seemed to me ample in quantity, but lacking excuse, it seems to me, for the failure of the in variety and very deficient in vegetables. Russian Government to provide at least beds The bread, which I tasted, was perhaps as and pillows of straw for its hard-labor convicts. good as that eaten by Russian peasants genCivilized human beings put straw even into erally; but it was very moist and sticky, and the kennels of their dogs; but the Russian pieces taken from the center of the loaf could Government forces men to work for ten or be rolled back into dough in one's hands. The twelve hours a day in its East Siberian mines; meat, which I saw weighed out to the convicts compels them after this exhausting toil to lie after it had been boiled and cut up into pieces down on a bare plank; and then, to console about as large as dice, did not have an invitthem in their misery, tacks up on the grimy ing appearance, and suggested to my mind wall over their heads the command and the small refuse scraps intended for use as soappromise of Christ, "Come unto me, all ye that grease. The daily meals of the convicts were labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you arranged as follows: in the morning, after the rest." Mr. Frost and I made a careful exami- roll-call, or "verification," breakfast, consistnation of ten prisons in the province of the ing of brick tea and black rye-bread, was Trans-Baikal, and in none of them with the served to the prisoners in their cells. The single exception of the new central prison in working parties then set out on foot for the Verkhni Udinsk (Verkh'nee Oo'dinsk) — did gold placers, carrying with them bread and we find a bed, a pillow, or a blanket. Every- tea for lunch. This midday meal was eaten where the prisoners lay down at night in their in the open air beside a camp-fire, regardless gray overcoats on bare planks, and almost of weather, and sometimes in fierce winter everywhere they were tortured by vermin, storms. Late in the afternoon the convicts reand were compelled to breathe the same air turned on foot to their cells and ate on their over and over again until it seemed to me that sleeping-platforms the first hearty and nourishthere could not be oxygen enough left in it to ing meal of the day, consisting of hot soup, support combustion in the flame of a farthing meat, bread, and perhaps a little more brick rush-light. If any one who can read Russian tea. After the evening verification they were thinks that these statements exaggerate the locked up for the night, and lay down to sleep facts, I beg him to refer to the description of in closely packed rows on the "nares," or the convict prison at the Kara Lower Diggings sleeping-benches, without removing their clothin Maximoff's "Siberia and Penal Servitude," ing, and without making any preparations for Vol. I., pages 100-103; to the description of the night beyond bringing in the "parashas," the old Verkhni Udinsk prison in Orfanoff's or excrement buckets, spreading down their "Afar," pages 220-222; and to the statements of the latter author with regard to East Siberian prisons and prison management generally in the second part of his book.1 I am not saying these things for the first time; they have been said before, in Russia and by Russians. I do not repeat them because I like to do it; but

1 "Siberia and Penal Servitude," by S. Maximoff. St. Petersburg: A. Transhel, 1871. "Afar," by M. I. Orfanoff. Moscow: Kushnereff & Co., 1883.

Mr. Orfanoff says, for example,—and says it in

thin patchwork crazy-quilts, and rolling up some of their spare clothing to put under their heads. The clothing furnished to a hard-labor convict at Kara consists—or should, by law, consist of one coarse linen shirt and one pair of linen trousers every six months; one cap, one pair of thick trousers, and one gray italics, that in the course of nine years' service in Siberia, he "never saw a prison in which there were less than twice the number of prisoners for which it was intended." (Page 233.)

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