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[Illustration: THE KREMLIN.]




Édition d'Élite


Historical Tales

The Romance of Reality


By

CHARLES MORRIS

_Author of "Half-Hours with the Best American Authors," "Tales from the
Dramatists," etc._


IN FIFTEEN VOLUMES

Volume VIII


Russian


J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

PHILADELPHIA AND LONDON




Copyright, 1898, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1904, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1908, by J.B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.




_CONTENTS._

PAGE

THE ANCIENT SCYTHIANS 5

OLEG THE VARANGIAN 14

THE VENGEANCE OF QUEEN OLGA 21

VLADIMIR THE GREAT 29

THE LAWGIVER OF RUSSIA 41

THE YOKE OF THE TARTARS 49

THE VICTORY OF THE DON 55

IVAN, THE FIRST OF THE CZARS 60

THE FALL OF NOVGOROD THE GREAT 64

IVAN THE TERRIBLE 74

THE CONQUEST OF SIBERIA 80

THE MACBETH OF RUSSIA 85

THE ERA OF THE IMPOSTORS 101

THE BOOKS OF ANCESTRY 110

BOYHOOD OF PETER THE GREAT 114

CARPENTER PETER OF ZAANDAM 123

THE FALL OF THE STRELITZ 132

THE CRUSADE AGAINST BEARDS AND CLOAKS 142

MAZEPPA, THE COSSACK CHIEF 149

A WINDOW OPEN TO EUROPE 155

FROM THE HOVEL TO THE THRONE 165

BUFFOONERIES OF THE RUSSIAN COURT 174

HOW A WOMAN DETHRONED A MAN 184

A STRUGGLE FOR A THRONE 195

THE FLIGHT OF THE KALMUCKS 202

A MAGICAL TRANSFORMATION SCENE 220

KOSCIUSKO AND THE FALL OF POLAND 226

SUWARROW THE UNCONQUERABLE 231

THE RETREAT OF NAPOLEON'S GRAND ARMY 241

THE DEATH-STRUGGLE OF POLAND 248

SCHAMYL, THE HERO OF CIRCASSIA 258

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE 267

THE FALL OF SEBASTOPOL 276

AT THE GATES OF CONSTANTINOPLE 284

THE NIHILISTS AND THEIR WORK 293

THE ADVANCE OF RUSSIA IN ASIA 300

THE RAILROAD IN TURKESTAN 311

AN ESCAPE FROM THE MINES OF SIBERIA 319

THE SEA FIGHT IN THE WATERS OF JAPAN 329




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


RUSSIAN.

PAGE

THE KREMLIN _Frontispiece._

CATHEDRAL AT OSTANKINO, NEAR MOSCOW 40

GENERAL VIEW OF MOSCOW 55

CHURCH AND TOWER OF IVAN THE GREAT 78

KIAKHTA, SIBERIA 84

CHURCH OF THE ASSUMPTION, MOSCOW, IN WHICH
THE CZAR IS CROWNED 109

ALEXANDER III., CZAR OF RUSSIA 122

DINING-ROOM IN THE PALACE OF PETER THE GREAT,
MOSCOW 136

PETER THE GREAT 142

ST. PETERSBURG HARBOR, NEVA RIVER 156

SLEIGHING IN RUSSIA 160

A RUSSIAN DROSKY 189

THE CITY OF KASAN 199

SCENE ON A RUSSIAN FARM 223

RUSSIAN PEASANTS 249

MOUNT ST. PETER, CRIMEA 267

THE WALLS OF CONSTANTINOPLE 290

THE ARREST OF A NIHILIST 297

DOWAGER CZARINA OF RUSSIA 300

GROUP OF SIBERIANS 320




_THE ANCIENT SCYTHIANS._


Far over the eastern half of Europe extends a vast and mighty plain,
spreading thousands of miles to the north and south, to the east and
west, in the north a land of forests, in the south and east a region of
treeless levels. Here stretches the Black Land, whose deep dark soil is
fit for endless harvests; here are the arable steppes, a vast fertile
prairie land, and here again the barren steppes, fit only for wandering
herds and the tents of nomad shepherds. Across this great plain, in all
directions, flow myriads of meandering streams, many of them swelling
into noble rivers, whose waters find their outlet in great seas. Over it
blow the biting winds of the Arctic zone, chaining its waters in fetters
of ice for half the year. On it in summer shine warm suns, in whose
enlivening rays life flows full again.

Such is the land with which we have to deal, Russia, the seeding-place
of nations, the home of restless tribes. Here the vast level of Northern
Asia spreads like a sea over half of Europe, following the lowlands
between the Urals and the Caspian Sea. Over these broad plains the
fierce horsemen of the East long found an easy pathway to the rich and
doomed cities of the West. Russia was playing its part in the grand
drama of the nations in far-off days when such a land was hardly known
to exist.

Have any of my readers ever from a hill-top looked out over a broad,
low-lying meadow-land filled with morning mist, a dense white shroud
under which everything lay hidden, all life and movement lost to view?
In such a scene, as the mist thins under the rays of the rising sun,
vague forms at first dimly appear, magnified and monstrous in their
outlines, the shadows of a buried wonderland. Then, as the mist slowly
lifts, like a great white curtain, living and moving objects appear
below, still of strange outlines and unnatural dimensions. Finally, as
if by the sweep of an enchanter's wand, the mists vanish, the land lies
clear under the solar rays, and we perceive that these seeming monsters
and giants are but the familiar forms which we know so well, those of
houses and trees, men and their herds, actively stirring beneath us,
clearly revealed as the things of every day.

It is thus that the land of Russia appears to us when the mists of
prehistoric time first begin to lift. Half-formed figures appear,
rising, vanishing, showing large through the vapor; stirring,
interwoven, endlessly coming and going; a phantasmagoria which it is
impossible more than half to understand. At that early date the great
Russian plain seems to have been the home of unnumbered tribes of varied
race and origin, made up of men doubtless full of hopes and aspirations
like ourselves, yet whose story we fail to read on the blurred page of
history, and concerning whom we must rest content with knowing a few of
the names.

Yet progressive civilizations had long existed in the countries to the
south, Egypt and Assyria, Greece and Persia. History was actively being
made there, but it had not penetrated the mist-laden North. The Greeks
founded colonies on the northern shores of the Black Sea, but they
troubled themselves little about the seething tribes with whom they came
there into contact. The land they called Scythia, and its people
Scythians, but the latter were scarcely known until about 500 B.C., when
Darius, the great Persian king, crossed the Danube and invaded their
country. He found life there in abundance, and more warlike activity
than he relished, for the fierce nomads drove him and his army in terror
from their soil, and only fortune and a bridge of boats saved them from
perishing.

It was this event that first gave the people of old Russia a place on
the page of history. Herodotus, the charming old historian and
story-teller, wrote down for us all he could learn about them, though
what he says has probably as much fancy in it as fact.

We are told that these broad levels were formerly inhabited by a people
called the Cimmerians, who were driven out by the Scythians and went--it
is hard to tell whither. A shadow of their name survives in the Crimea,
and some believe that they were the ancestors of the Cymri, the Celts of
the West.

The Scythians, who thus came into history like a cloud of war, made the
god of war their chief deity. The temples which they built to this deity
were of the simplest, being great heaps of fagots, which were added to
every year as they rotted away under the rains. Into the top of the
heap was thrust an ancient iron sword as the emblem of the god. To this
grim symbol more victims were sacrificed than to all the other deities;
not only cattle and horses, but prisoners taken in battle, of whom one
out of every hundred died to honor the god, their blood being caught in
vessels and poured on the sword.

A people with a worship like this must have been savage in grain. To
prove their prowess in war they cut off the heads of the slain and
carried them to the king. Like the Indians of the West, they scalped
their enemies. These scalps, softened by treatment, they used as napkins
at their meals, and even sewed them together to make cloaks. Here was a
refinement in barbarity undreamed of by the Indians.

These were not their only savage customs. They drank the blood of the
first enemy killed by them in battle, and at their high feasts used
drinking-cups made from the skulls of their foes. When a chief died
cruelty was given free vent.



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