The soldier, a peasant from Nijni Novgorod, with a red,pockmarked face, put the paper into the sleeve of his coat,winked to his companion, a broadshouldered Tchouvash, and thenthe prisoner and the soldiers went to the front entrance, out ofthe prison yard, and through the town up the middle of theroughlypaved street.
Isvostchiks cabmen, tradespeople, cooks, workmen,and government clerks, stopped and looked curiously at theprisoner; some shook their heads and thought, “This is what evilconduct, conduct unlike ours, leads to.” The children stopped andgazed at the robber with frightened looks; but the thought thatthe soldiers were preventing her from doing more harm quietedtheir fears. A peasant, who had sold his charcoal, and had hadsome tea in the town, came up, and, after crossing himself, gaveher a copeck.The prisoner blushed and muttered something; shenoticed that she was attracting everybody’s attention, and thatpleased her. The comparatively fresh air also gladdened her, butit was painful to step on the rough stones with the illmadeprison shoes on her feet, which had become unused to walking.Passing by a corndealer’s shop, in front of which a few pigeonswere strutting about, unmolested by any one, the prisoner almosttouched a greyblue bird with her foot; it fluttered up and flewclose to her car, fanning her with its wings. She smiled, thensighed deeply as she remembered her present position.
MASLOVA’S EARLY LIFE.
Maslova’s mother was the unmarried daughter of a village woman,employed on a dairy farm, which belonged to two maiden ladies whowere landowners. This unmarried woman had a baby every year, and,as often happens among the village people, each one of theseundesired babies, after it had been carefully baptised, wasneglected by its mother, whom it hindered at her work, and leftto starve. Five children had died in this way. They had all beenbaptised and then not sufficiently fed, and just left to die.The sixth baby, whose father was a gipsy tramp, would have sharedthe same fate, had it not so happened that one of the maidenladies came into the farmyard to scold the dairymaids for sendingup cream that smelt of the cow. The young woman was lying in thecowshed with a fine, healthy, newborn baby. The old maiden ladyscolded the maids again for allowing the woman who had just beenconfined to lie in the cowshed, and was about to go away, butseeing the baby her heart was touched, and she offered to standgodmother to the little girl, and pity for her littlegoddaughter induced her to give milk and a little money to themother, so that she should feed the baby; and the little girllived. The old ladies spoke of her as “the saved one.” When thechild …….