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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Laid out in the old bed of the Vistula


The officer moved on to me.

"Monsieur," mournfully remarked the Frenchman, "now _you_ will be done for."

I declared everything and produced a special permit, which had been very courteously given me by the Russian Ambassador, and handed it to the officer. Having eagerly read it, he stood with his heels together and gave me a military salute. With a profound bow he begged me to point out to him all my luggage so that he could have it stamped without giving me further trouble. He politely declined to use the keys I handed him, and thinking that I might feel uncomfortable in the hustling crowd of people he conveyed me to a chair in order that I might sit down.

I turned round to look at the Frenchmen. They had altogether collapsed.

"I thought you said that Englishmen were hated in Russia, and that they would confiscate all my things? You see they have confiscated nothing," I meekly remarked to the Frenchmen, when they returned to the sleeping car. "I do not think that I have met with more polite Customs officials anywhere."

"_Oui, oui_," muttered the stouter Frenchman, who was evidently in no mood to enter into further conversation. "_Et nous autres betes_," he soliloquized, "_qui avons fait l'alliance avec ces sauvages la! On m'a tout pris meme le papier a lettres!_"

He removed his coat and waistcoat and the many interesting patent appliances for holding his tie in the correct position--where it never remained--then he threw himself violently on the berth, face towards the wall, and grumbled the greater part of the night on the stupid mistake of the Franco-Russian Alliance. On his return to France he would write a letter to the Ministre des Affaires Etrangeres. After a long and tedious soliloquy he fortunately fell asleep.

Warsaw on the Vistula, the old capital of Poland, was reached in the morning.

The quickest way to Baku would have been to proceed to Moscow and then by the so-called "petroleum express," which leaves once a week, every Tuesday, for Baku. Unluckily, I could not reach Moscow in time, and therefore decided to travel across Russia by the next best route, _via_ Kiev, Rostoff, and the Caspian. The few hours I remained in Warsaw were pleasantly spent in going about seeing the usual sights; the Palace and lovely Lazienski gardens, laid out in the old bed of the Vistula; the out-of-door theatre on a small island, the auditorium being separated by water from the stage; the lakes, the Saski Ogrod, and the Krasinski public gardens; the Jewish quarter of the town; the museums of ancient and modern art.

There are few cities in Europe that are prettier, cleaner, and more animated than Warsaw, and few women in the world that have a better claim to good looks than the Warsaw fair sex. The majority of women one sees in the streets are handsome, and carry themselves well, and their dress is in good taste, never over-done as it is in Paris, for instance.

The whole city has a flourishing appearance, with its tramways, gay omnibuses, electric light, telephones, and every modern convenience. The streets are broad and cheerful. In the newer parts of the city there are beautiful residences, several of which, I was told, belong to British subjects settled there. The Russian military element is very strong, for Poland's love for Russia is not yet very great. As we walk along the main thoroughfares a long string of Cossacks, in their long black felt cloaks and Astrakan caps, canter along. They are a remarkably picturesque and business-like lot of soldiers.


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