At two o'clock I was at the governor's, where I found the anxious captain. When our lunch was finished Madame Pedeshenk gave me some wild grapes of native production. They were about the size of peas, and quite acid in taste. With cultivation they might be larger and better flavored, just as many of our American grapes have improved in the past twenty years.
During my stay at Blagoveshchensk I was invited to assist at a visit made by the governor of Igoon to Colonel Pedeshenk. The latter sent his carriage at the appointed hour to bring the Chinese dignitary and his chief of staff. A retinue of ten or twelve officers followed on foot, and on entering the audience hall they remained standing near the door.
Six or eight ladies were of the party, and the affair had the general appearance of a picnic. The governor seated me in his carriage at the side of Madame Pedeshenk, and we led the company to the field of expected slaughter. With four horses abreast, two attached to a pole and two outside, we dashed over an excellent road leading back from the town.
The Ingodah tied to the bank just below the wharf, and was welcomed by the usual crowd of soldiers and citizens, with a fair number of Manjours from the other bank. On landing, I called upon Colonel Pedeshenk, the governor of the Province, and delivered my letters of introduction. The Colonel invited me to dine with him that day, and stated that several officers of his command would be present.
I happened to reach the town on the morning appointed for the funeral service. The church was crowded, everybody standing, according to the custom prevailing in Russia. Colonel Pedeshenk and his officers were in full uniform, and almost all present held lighted candles. Five or six priests, with an Archbishop, conducted the ceremonies.
Madame Pedeshenk followed into the arms of the strong doctor, but the governor, true to the martial instinct, remained in his place and gave instructions to the driver. We did not re-enter the carriage until it was across the brook; the horses were exercised rather violently during the remainder of the journey. I think the gazelle we killed was identical with the antelope of our western plains.
At the appointed hour I went to dine at the governor's, where I found eight or ten officers and the young wife of Colonel Pedeshenk. We spent a half-hour on the balcony, where there was a charming view of the river and the Chinese shore with its background of mountains. The governor's house was more like a mansion in a venerable town than in a settlement less than ten years old.
From beginning to end the service lasted about an hour. Colonel Pedeshenk had been governor but a few months, and awaited confirmation in his position. Having served long on the staff of General Bussy, he was disposed to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and carry out his plans for developing the resources of his district.