She waited--Michael Strogoff waited also.
Both remained quiet.
"A determined nature!" thought Michael Strogoff.
However, all danger had quickly disappeared. A breakage of the coupling of the luggage-van had first caused the shock to, and then the stoppage of, the train, which in another instant would have been thrown from the top of the embankment into a bog. There was an hour's delay. At last, the road being cleared, the train proceeded, and at half-past eight in the evening arrived at the station of Nijni-Novgorod.
Before anyone could get out of the carriages, the inspectors of police presented themselves at the doors and examined the passengers.
Michael Strogoff showed his podorojna, made out in the name of Nicholas Korpanoff. He had consequently no difficulty. As to the other travelers in the compartment, all bound for Nijni-Novgorod, their appearance, happily for them, was in nowise suspicious.
The young girl in her turn, exhibited, not a passport, since passports are no longer required in Russia, but a permit indorsed with a private seal, and which seemed to be of a special character. The inspector read the permit with attention. Then, having attentively examined the person whose description it contained:
"You are from Riga?" he said.
"Yes," replied the young girl.
"You are going to Irkutsk?"
"By what route?"
"Good!" replied the inspector. "Take care to have your permit vised, at the police station of Nijni-Novgorod."
The young girl bent her head in token of assent.
Hearing these questions and replies, Michael Strogoff experienced a mingled sentiment both of surprise and pity. What! this young girl, alone, journeying to that far-off Siberia, and at a time when, to its ordinary dangers, were added all the perils of an invaded country and one in a state of insurrection! How would she reach it? What would become of her?
The inspection ended, the doors of the carriages were then opened, but, before Michael Strogoff could move towards her, the young Livonian, who had been the first to descend, had disappeared in the crowd which thronged the platforms of the railway station.
CHAPTER V THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS
NIJNI-NOVGOROD, Lower Novgorod, situate at the junction of the Volga and the Oka, is the chief town in the district of the same name. It was here that Michael Strogoff was obliged to leave the railway, which at the time did not go beyond that town. Thus, as he advanced, his traveling would become first less speedy and then less safe.
Nijni-Novgorod, the fixed population of which is only from thirty to thirty-five thousand inhabitants, contained at that time more than three hundred thousand; that is to say, the population was increased tenfold. This addition was in consequence of the celebrated fair, which was held within the walls for three weeks. Formerly Makariew had the benefit of this concourse of traders, but since 1817 the fair had been removed to Nijni-Novgorod.
Even at the late hour at which Michael Strogoff left the platform, there was still a large number of people in the two towns, separated by the stream of the Volga, which compose Nijni-Novgorod. The highest of these is built on a steep rock. and defended by a fort called in Russia "kreml."
Michael Strogoff expected some trouble in finding a hotel, or even an inn, to suit him. As he had not to start immediately, for he was going to take a steamer, he was compelled to look out for some lodging; but, before doing so, he wished to know exactly the hour at which the steamboat would start. He went to the office of the company whose boats plied between Nijni-Novgorod and Perm. There, to his great annoyance, he found that no boat started for Perm till the following day at twelve o'clock. Seventeen hours to wait! It was very vexatious to a man so pressed for time. However, he never senselessly murmured. Besides, the fact was that no other conveyance could take him so quickly either to Perm or Kasan. It would be better, then, to wait for the steamer, which would enable him to regain lost time.