Quick Quotes 24. The following quote is from Recollections of Tartar Steppes and their Inhabitants, by Lucy Atkinson, published in 1863:
Since our arrival here, there has been a number of balls and parties: we were just in time for the Easter festivities; it was the last week of the fast when we got into Tomsk. First, I went and made the acquaintance of all the notables of the town, they are principally gold seekers. Mr. Astersghoff is one of the wealthiest, and possesses rich mines in the Yenissey, which we shall visit; he showed us some fine specimens of gold, weighing 251b. and 301b. each. These miners have magnificent mansions, and live in great state. We likewise visited the vice-governor, a most amiable and gentlemanly man; he will not be able to hold his office much longer, having married the daughter of a gold-seeker. A government officer is not allowed to work mines of his own, and as he now possesses them he must give up his post. He is just married; his wife was the only daughter of a poor peasant, her mother died whilst she was young; this child used to run about the streets bare-legged until she was a good age. When the rage for gold-seeking was so great, the old peasant thought he would hazard his little savings which he had collected for his daughter’s dowry, so started off one fine day; fortune rewarded his efforts, for he found a mine, which proved to be very rich; he now sent his daughter, of whom he was justly proud, to a school, where she learned to read and write.
The poor fellow did not live long to enjoy the fruits of his labours, he died two years ago, leaving his daughter a rich heiress at the age of fifteen; her education is still being continued; her husband has provided her with teachers, who come daily. A more graceful or beautiful creature it has rarely been my lot to see. She receives her visitors and sits at the head of her table, as though she had been accustomed to her present position from her birth, and yet so modest withal.
During the late 1830s and early 1840s the writer of this quote, Lucy Atkinson (or Lucy Finley, as she was at the time), worked as a governess in St Petersburg, where she met her husband Thomas Atkinson. They were married in 1848 and set off on a grand tour of Siberia and Central Asia, which lasted until 1853.
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