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of hail, which quickly changed into rain, and I was drenched from head to foot.
This shower, however disagreeable in itself, was in another point of view extremely favourable. I had suffered thirst to such a degree, that my tongue was parched: the trees now glistened with large drops of water; I applied my lips to every fir-apple I could reach, and at this moment I felt the whole force of that picture contained in the gospel, of the rich man in torments, begging in vain for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue! When I had exhausted all that were at hand I went farther in quest of others; but I was constantly under the necessity of proceeding cautiously, lest in snatching too eagerly at the tempting bough, the drops of rain should fall on the ground before I could reach them. By degrees I grew more dexterous; but an uninvited guest soon came to rob me of my frugal beverage: the meridian sun evaporated every drop.
I heard a carriage pass along a road which I conceived to be the highway. I imagined it to be my own, which the counsellor might have taken in order to pursue me at his ease. This was the only sound made by a human being that had yet disturbed my solitude. At noon, however, it was disturbed in a manner that filled me with inexpressible terror. I observed a peasant on horseback trotting in various directions across the plain. He traversed the mea. dows, rode up the hill, galloped down again, surveyed the bushes and rode in among them. At last, seeming not to know which way to take, he made directly towards my hiding-place. Happily the friendly clump that afforded me a refuge concealed me; the man turned off, and I saw him no more. I had already remarked that no road ran near this spot, and I naturally concluded the peasant to be one who was sent in search of me.
Half an hour afterwards a cart appeared on the
same spot, and merely crossed it: in both cases I laid myself flat on the ground.
I perceived in the afternoon that the forest which lay behind me did not extend so far as I had at first thought, and I observed several carriages pass near me in front. I likewise heard three or four peasant girls singing and playing together at no great distance: they did not seem to be of the number of the peasants sent out in quest of me, whence I supposed it was the road to some village that lay in the neighbourhood.
About five o'clock I experienced an alarm which greatly surpassed all that I had hitherto felt. I heard the cry of a pack of hounds, and the voice of the huntsman who was leading them on.—The story of Joseph Pignata, who, after his escape from the prison of the inquisition, was hunted by blood-hounds, rushed into my mind. I knew, indeed, that in Livonia it was not the custom to hunt men; but the animal that was pursued might take towards the spot where I was concealed, and the dogs in following the scent would of course penetrate my retreat ; and it is well known to every sportsman that when they conie within view of a human creature they alter their cry. In such a predicament I must unavoidably be discovered by the huntsman. At one time they were within two hundred paces of my hiding-place. In this perplexity I wrapped myself closely up in my cloak and yielded entirely to chance. The hunt by. degrees took another direction, and the dogs soon ran out of sight in pursuit of their game.
I am not at present able to say with certainty whether this was merely a common hunt, or a pack of hounds led out in pursuit of me; but I have reason to believe that I was actually the object of their chase, the hunting season being over. On the other hand, it is well known that the shepherds’ dogs follow the scent in the spring, and make great havoc among the game.
In addition to the terrors arising from real dangers, I had likewise to contend with the idle illusions of the fancy: At one time I imagined an old stump of a tree in the fence-wood to be a man; and as the day declined I grew still more subject to these deceptive apprehensions. At another time I thought I perceived a sportsman before me with a green hat and jacket, and that he was taking aim at me. I observed his fowling-piece, marked the turn of his countenance, which seemed to be very agreeable and full of kind
I was so far deceived as to take off my cloak, and make signs to convince him of his error in having taken me for a deer.
Had I remained much longer in the wood, I certainly should have experienced a derangement of intellect, which perhaps would have terminated in real madness. My brain seemed on fire, my ears rang, and sparkles danced before my eyes, my feet were benumbed, my hands were in the same condition, my whole frame shivered, and my pulse was irregular. I felt myself ill, very ill.-Shall I say
what now supported me? My wife, my angelic wife. The dear name of my Amelia, invoked in a feeble tone, roused the last remains of my strength, and called forth my drooping courage. But this talisman operated only upon the mind; exhausted nature called for other sustenance.
It was now Saturday evening. At the post-house on the other side of Mittau, I had taken a slice of bread and butter with a dish of coffee; the next day a biscuit; on Friday, three spoonsful of soup; besides this I had not tasted a single morsel, and the drops of water were all I had swallowed the whole of the present day. I was aware that unless I obtained food I should soon die in the woods or on the highway. What a useless thing is money! I had more than seven hundred roubles about me, yet I was unable to procure a morsel of bread. Nor was this all : sleep had long been a stranger to my eyes; for the short slumber that stole upon me in the carriage could not be called repose.
When it grew darker, a woodcock flew over my head. Its hoarse and brawling cry renewed the sensations of my pastimes in happier days. It had been a favourite sport with me, when I resided in Livonia, to pass the fine evenings in spring in pursuit of this bird of passage, which, it is well known, is very scarce in Germany. At the recollection of this sport, a thousand other ideas arose in my mind with tormenting officiousness. I sent a heavy sigh after the bird : it was its hour of quitting the wood, and it warned me likewise to leave it.
Being desirous to take a short route in order to regain the highway, I traversed one of those roads which are made in forests for the purpose of drawing away the fallen timber. Just as I arrived there, some boors were driving their empty carts along at full trot. Not being able to make my retreat, I had instant recourse to my usual expedient. I lay flat on the ground, trusting myself wholly to chance. The thicket where I was concealed was very bare; I had nevertheless the good fortune not to be perceived. Scarcely were they gone, when I continued my route in the direction I had at first taken. I quickly observed, however, that instead of coming to the end of the wood, I was travelling farther into it, and the noise which I had mistaken for the waters of the Duna, was nothing but the effect of the wind upon the trees, which was heard everywhere round.-What was now to be done? Return to the marshes ? Could I return in the dark ? Hunger, thirst, cold, and fatigue, would have reduced me to my last gasp, and my body, left to the mercy of the wolves, would become their prey. I then determined to seek for the cart-road I had observed, and although the task was extremely difficult, in a quarter of an hour I discovered it.
I walked fast along this road, but I began to think that it led me too much on one side. Of this I was
certain when, coming to the highway, I read on the finger-post* that I was still within three verstes of the spot where I had left my travelling companions.
I had yet nearly three German miles to walk before I could reach Kokenhusen; a dreadful distance for a man in my situation. I first approached the Duna, and scooped some water into the brim of my hat to slake the burning thirst under which I laboured; and I quickly felt the bad effects of this in a violent Sit of the cholic. My throat likewise was so much parched and swelled that I could scarcely swallow. Hoping, however, that exercise would mitigate my pain, I began to proceed forwards, though the road was still frequented by passengers. At one time I was obliged to slip suddenly behind a hedge, to screen myself from an unlucky rencounter; at another, to take a circuitous way to avoid a noisy public-house. Sometimes a watch-dog would bark at a distance, and I was under the necessity of evading his pursuit as quickly as possible ; for should he not be satisfied with merely barking or howling at
I had nothing to defend myself with, except a small pair of scissars. At length I thought to avoid all these accidents by stealing along the banks of the Duna, but I found the river full of rafts, with fires burning and men walking backwards and forwards upon them. It was then expedient to change my course, sometimes following the river, at others crossing the underwood, or regaining the high road, as occasion served. It was by straggling along in this manner that I at last arrived. at Stockmannshoff, at eleven o'clock at night.
The castle inhabited by chamberlain de Bayer is situated on a hill; a garden rising in terraces extends to the public road, and is terminated by an iron gate.
I observed several lights still burning in the castle, but they began gradually to disappear, and shortly
* All over Russia posts are erected, which from verste to verste indicate the distance of the adjacent towns.