Sergei Stepniak (1882)
The Moscow Attempt
I. A Band of Hermits
Upon the outskirts of the old capital of Russia, just where that half Asiatic city, immense as the antique Babylon or Nineveh, is at last lost in the distance, and its houses, becoming fewer, are scattered among the market gardens and fields, and the immense uncultivated plains which surround it on all sides, as the sea surrounds an islet; on these outskirts is a little cottage, one story high, old, grimy with age, and half in ruins.
Although in a capital, this poor dwelling is not out of harmony with the district. The other houses round about have the same mean and rough aspect; and all this part of the immense city resembles a little village lost in the plains of Russia, rather than a district of one of the largest capitals in Europe. In summer, grass grows in the streets, so high that a cavalry regiment might exercise there; and in the rainy autumn, these streets are full of puddles and miniature lakes, in which the ducks and geese swim about.
There is no movement. From time to time a passerby is seen, and if he does not belong to the district the boys stare at him until be is out of sight. If by chance a carriage, or a hired vehicle, arrives in these parts, all the shutters, green, red, and blue, are hurriedly opened, and girls and women peep forth, curious to see such an extraordinary sight.