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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Having enjoyed a good wash and a shampoo


But

the barbarian Russian knows and does better. The line being of a very broad gauge, his first-class carriages are extremely spacious and very high, with large windows and efficacious ventilators; and there is plenty of room everywhere to spread one's limbs in every direction. There is probably less gilding about the ceiling, fewer nickel-plated catches about the doors; not so much polished wood, nor ghastly coloured imitation-leather paper, nor looking-glasses, but very convenient folding-tables are found instead; the seats are ample and serviceable, of plain, handsome red velvet, devoid of the innumerable dust-collecting button-pits--that striking feature of British and continental railway-carriage decoration. Movable cushions are provided for one's back and head. There are bright electric lights burning overhead, and adjustable reading lights in the corners of the carriage. A corridor runs along the whole train, and for a few kopeks passengers can at any moment procure excellent tea, caviare sandwiches, or other light refreshments from attendants.

Now for the bedding itself. The Russian, who is ever a practical man, carries his own bedding--a couple of sheets, blankets, and small pillow,--a custom infinitely cleaner and more sensible than sleeping in dubious, smelly blankets of which one does not know who has used them before, nor when they were washed last. But if passengers wish, by paying a rouble (two shillings) a night to the guard, bedding

is provided by the Railway. There is a fine _lavabo_ at the end of each carriage, with shampoo, hot and cold water, etc. Here, too, by asking the guard, towels are handed over to those passengers who have not brought their own.

Here I may relate another amusing incident. Unable to get at my towels packed in my registered baggage, and ignorant of the Russian language, I inquired of a polyglot fellow-passenger what was the Russian word for towel, so that I could ask the guard for one.

"_Palatiensi_," said he, and I repeated, "Palatiensi, palatiensi, palatiensi," so as to impress the word well upon my memory. Having enjoyed a good wash and a shampoo, and dripping all over with water, I rang for the guard, and sure enough, when the man came, I could not recollect the word. At last it dawned upon me that it was,--"_Palatinski_," and "_Palatinski_," I asked of the guard.

To my surprise the guard smiled graciously, and putting on a modest air replied: "_Palatinski niet, paruski_ (I do not speak Latin, I speak only Russian)," and the more I repeated "palatinski," putting the inflection now on one syllable, then on the other, to make him understand, the more flattered the man seemed to be, and modestly gave the same answer.

This was incomprehensible to me, until my polyglot fellow-passenger came to my assistance.

"Do you know what you are asking the guard?" he said in convulsions of laughter.

"Yes, I am asking for a 'palatinski'--a towel."

"No, you are not!" and he positively went into hysterics. "Palatinski means 'Do you speak Latin?' How can you expect a Russian railway-guard to speak Latin? Look how incensed the poor man is at being mistaken for a Latin scholar! Ask him for a _palatiensi_, and he will run for a towel."

The man did run on the magic word being pronounced, and duly returned with a nice clean _palatiensi_, which, however, was little use to me for I had by this time nearly got dry by the natural processes of dripping and evaporation.


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