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seemed best, and we immediately set about doing so ; but we moved on at a slow rate, for the courier, who had taken the reins, did not know how to drive. He kept going from right to left and from left to right, and this cost the Livonian nation, who had nothing to do in the business, another volley of curses and infamous exclamations.
When I say curses, I am not quite correct; I should not use the plural number; the Russians have but one curse, which, it must be allowed, is worth all the rest. They wish, for instance, that the mother of the man against whom they are enraged may have the devil for her paramour ; and this they express in a manner so explicit, that those who are averse to doubtful meanings must be perfectly satisfied with it. I do not exaggerate when I declare that, during this single day, our people, had recourse to this vile ribaldry more than a thousand times. The expression is indeed as common among the ill-bred Russians, as damning a thing is in the mouth of an Englishman, or as the word ' monsieur was in former times in that of a Frenchman.
On our return to Kokenhusen, the counsellor made many bitter complaints against the postillion, without saying a word about the beating which he had given him. You must have used him ill,” said the postmaster, “ for he is a steady lad." The fact was positively denied : the post-master looked at me, and I answered in favour of the injured post-boy by an inclination of my head.
It is well known that, in a coarse mind, the consciousness of having been in the wrong creates emotions of anger
Our counsellor finding himself in this position, poured forth a volley of the most indecent abuse, which he accompanied with threats. But as the postmaster had no legal remedy except that of making his complaint in the usual way, without being able to retard the departure of the courier, he gave us a fresh horse ; but a fresh postillion was not so easily to be found. This circumstance took up a considerable time, which, as far as it concerned me, was by no means disagreeable.
During all this time I remained alone in the car. riage. The post-master's brother came up to me, and, in a manner that seemed very particular, said : “ Your name, sir, is not inserted in the body of the post order.” I was quite at a loss what answer to make. I have since indeed learnt, that the name not being inserted therein, the post-master was not obliged to furnish horses. Had I known this sooner, I should have urged him to have availed himself of his right. What could our counsellor have done? He must have waited here till he could have provided himself with horses from Riga. The governor of Riga being totally ignorant of this, would have written to Mittau, which must have taken up considerable time; and in this instance at least much advantage might have been gained by procrastination. I should by this means have had time to prepare for my flight: but, in the state of ignorance in which I now remained, I was unable to avail myself of this desirable expedient, and accordingly after dinner we set out in the usual manner.
During the whole journey I continued to take a mental survey of the country, and particularly in the neighbourhood of Stockmannshoff. The Duna ran on my right, and on the left I remarked a chain of hills covered with wood. At six o'clock we arrived at the frontier post.*
In a little time, said I to myself, my destiny will be fixed. Beyond Livonia I shall find no friends, no acquaintance, not a soul that can speak the same language as myself: now then is the time to make my escape.
With this view I declared, though it was far from being late, that I was unable to go on any
• The frontiers of Livonia, and the province of Witepsk, farther, and that I must absolutely stop to obtain a little rest. This displeased our counsellor; he would fain have persuaded me to continue the journey; he however thought fit to stop, and this complaisance must certainly be attributed to his orders, which enjoined him not to weary me to death. It was accordingly arranged that we should pass
the night in this place. The post-house had a very miserable appearance, the room we were in being full of hogs and poultry, and in other respects extremely disgusting. I urged with great vehemence our going farther to an inn which I had perceived, and which being built of stone promised to afford better accommodations; but the truth was, that the post-house was ill-adapted for the execution of my project.
This inn to which we drove was kept by an Israelite, and belonged to the village of Stockmannshoff. It stood on the high road, which alone separated it from the Duna. At a few paces from hence the woody hills, in which I had placed all my hopes, began to rise. The courier set about preparing supper. He boasted of his culinary talents, and had killed a fowl, of which he promised to make an excellent iness of broth. I appeared to be much delighted at these preparations, and in the meantime strolled about the door with the counsellor. I examined the banks of the river and the rafts of timber which were floating down the stream. I took a silent survey of the country, returned to my chamber and examined the window, which was fastened only by a slight string. I observed with delight that it favoured my purpose, and that it might be opened and shut without any noise.
The counsellor accidentally left some writing paper on the table : I had the precaution to conceal a sheet of it, in the notion that it might hereafter prove extremely useful to me.
At nine o'clock the courier brought in supper, which consisted of a strong soup, a smoke-dried
sausage, and some Dantzic spirits. The two last articles my wife's chamber-maid had put into the carriage without my knowledge.
In order to compliment the talents of the cook, I tasted a few spoonsful of soup, and I even assumed a gaiety of behaviour that was far from appearing unnatural. The mind, in the present instance, was however more obedient than the body, for in spite of all my attempts I could not swallow a morsel, and I pretended extreme lassitude in excuse for my want of appetite.
I now rose from table to retire to rest. My companion would have persuaded me to occupy the bed, the only one in the house; but as it stood at a distant corner of the room, I observed that, as it seemed very dirty, I preferred some clean hay, which I caused to be laid on the ground not far from the window. My night-gown was spread over this: I wrapped myself up in my cloak, and was about to throw myself down, dressed as I was, upon this rustic bed, when the courier came to me to pull off my boots. Fortunately he placed them near me. I laid myself down, and apparently fell asleep.
My fellow travellers remained at the table till they had nothing more to eat or drink, and then went to rest. The counsellor stretched himself upon a bench which was separated from me only by the table. Above it was the window through which I hoped to escape. The courier slept in the carriage, which stood close to the same window.
It was now nearly eleven o'clock; the night was dark though the moon was at the full. The counsellor was fast asleep. This was the favourable moment; but unluckily our Jews were celebrating the eve of their sabbath in the most noisy manner. They kept continually running through the chamber; at one time came the host, at another his wife, and then the children. This unpleasant noise often roused the counsellor from his slumbers, and made him rave and swear most angrily. I joined my prayers to his imprecations; but all in vain! for these orgies continued till two o'clock in the morning, at which hour the Israelites retired to rest, and all became quiet.
Availing myself of the profound silence which now reigned throughout the whole house, I entered upon my enterprize. In the first place I crawled upon my knees, and gently untied the string of the window; this I happily effected without the least noise or difficulty. I heard the courier snore, and was enchanted at the sound. I then began to feel for my boots, and taking hold of them, together with my cloak, I got upon the table in the most cautious manner, scarcely allowing myself to breathe, and always pausing when I heard the counsellor stir. Thus far all went on perfectly well ; but I now met with great embarass. ment. The window was high, my foot could not reach the ground, nor was there anything against the wall on which I might have stepped.
What was to be done? Should I drop down at once? This could not be accomplished without hav. ing two hands to hang by, and my left hand was full. To have thrown my things into the street would have made some noise, and if the counsellor should awake before I could follow them, all my projects were at an end. This was, however, my only resourse, and I had no time to lose. I first let down my cloak very softly; it served to receive my boots, which instantly followed, without any noise or accident. It was now my turn to descend. I hung upon my elbows, one of ny feet touched the carriage and the other the ground, and thus I cleared my way.
Having effected my escape, it was necessary to pro. vide against immediate discovery. The courier continued snoring in a manner that promised a long sleep, but the cold that would come in at the window might awaken the counsellor, who would instantly discover my flight. To prevent such an accident, I drew the window as closely as I was able, and then