Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 16, 1893)
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THE CLEMENCY OF THE COURT-
"Damn you! What do you moan by giv
ing me hooping like that?"
Serge Povolitchky folded his big, work
worn hands and was silent. That helpless,
dogliko silencefof his always had a bad
effect on the guard's temper, and he turned
on him afresh.
"What do you mean by it, I say?- Maybe
you think you are some better than the rest
of us; maybe you think you are too good to
work. We'll see about that."
Serge still stared at the ground, muttering
in a low, husky voice, "I could make some
broom, I think. I would try much."
"O, you would, would you? So you don't
try now ? We will see about that. We will
send you to a school where you can learn to
hoop barrels. We have a school here, a
little, dark school, a night school, you know,
where we teach men a great many things."
Serge looked up appealingly into the man's
face and his eyelids quivered with terror,
but he said nothing, so the guard continued :
"Now I'll sit down here and watch you
hoop them barrels, and if you don't do a
mighty good job, I'll report you to the war
den and have you strung up as high as a
rope can twist."
Serge turned to his work again. He did
wish the guard would not watch him; it
seemed to him that he could hoop all right
if he did not feel the guard's eye on him all
the time. His hands had never done any
thing but dig and plow and they were so
clumsy he could not make them do right.
The guard began to swear and Serge trem
bled so he could scarcely hold his hammer.
He was very much afraid of the dark cell.
His cell was next to it and often at night lie
had heard the men groaning and shrieking
when the pain got bad, and begging the
guards for water. He heard one poor follow
get delirious when the rope cut and strangled
him, and talk to his mother all night long,
begging her not to hug him so hard, for she
The guard wont out and Serge worked on,
never even stopping to wipe the sweat from
his face. It was strange ho could not hoop
as well as the other men, for he was as
strong and stalwart as they, but he was so
clumsy at it. He thought ho could work in
the broom room if they would only let him.
Ho had handled straw all his life, and it
would seem good to work at the broom corn
that had the scent of outdoors about it. But
they said the broom room was full. He felt
weak and sick all over, someway. Ho could
not work in the house, he had never been in
doors a whole day in his life till he came
Serge was born in the western part of the
State, where he did not see many people.
His mother was a handsome Russian girl,
one of a Russian colony that a railroad had
brought West to build grades. His father
was supposed to be a railroad contractor,
no one knew surely. At any rate by no
will of his own or wish of his own, Serge
existed. When he was a few months old,
his mother had drowned herself in a pond so
small that no one ever quite saw how she
managed to do it.
Bala Skaldi, an old Russian woman of the
colony, took Serge and brought him up
among her own children. A hard enough
life he had of it with her. She fed him
what her children would not eat, and clothed
him in what her children would not wear.
She used to boast to baba Konach that she
got a man '8 work out of the young rat.
There was one pleasure in Serge's life with
her. Often at night after she had beaten
him and he lay sobbing on the floor in the
corner, she would tell her children stories of
Russia. They were beautiful stories, Serge
thought. In spite of all her cruelty hi never
quite disliked baba Skaldi because she could
tell such tine stories. The story told often -est
was one about her own brother. He had
done something wrong, Serge conld never
make out just what, and had bqen sent to
Siberia. His wife had gone with him. The
baba told all about the journey to Siberia as
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