Journeys Through Bookland — Volume 5 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 468 pages of information about Journeys Through Bookland — Volume 5.

The skin of the crocodile was stuffed in the usual manner, and makes a capital article in their public museum at Amsterdam, where the exhibitor relates the whole story to each spectator, with such additions as he thinks proper.

II

I set off from Rome on a journey to Russia, in the midst of winter, from a just notion that frost and snow must of course mend the roads, which every traveler had described as uncommonly bad through the northern parts of Germany, Poland, Courland, and Livonia.  I went on horseback, as the most convenient manner of traveling:  I was but lightly clothed, and of this I felt the inconvenience the more I advanced northeast.  What must not a poor old man have suffered in that severe weather and climate, whom I saw on a bleak common in Poland, lying on the road, helpless, shivering and hardly having wherewithal to cover his nakedness?  I pitied the poor soul:  though I felt the severity of the air myself, I threw my mantle over him, and immediately I heard a voice from the heavens blessing me for that piece of charity, saying, “You will be rewarded, my son, for this in time.”

I went on:  night and darkness overtook me.  No village was to be seen.  The country was covered with snow, and I was unacquainted with the road.

Tired, I alighted and fastened my horse to something like a pointed stump of a tree, which appeared above the snow; for the sake of safety I placed my pistols under my arm, and lay down on the snow, where I slept so soundly that I did not open my eyes till full daylight.  It is not easy to conceive my astonishment to find myself in the midst of a village, lying in a churchyard; nor was my horse to be seen, but I heard him soon after neigh somewhere above me.  On looking upwards I beheld him hanging by his bridle to the weathercock of the steeple.  Matters were now very plain to me:  the village had been covered with snow over night; a sudden change of weather had taken place; I had sunk down to the churchyard whilst asleep, gently, and in the same proportion as the snow had melted away; and what in the dark I had taken to be a stump of a little tree appearing above the snow, to which I had tied my horse, proved to have been the cross or weathercock of the steeple!

Without long consideration, I took one of my pistols, shot the bridle in two, brought down the horse, and proceeded on my journey.

III

For several months (as it was some time before I could obtain a commission in the army) I was perfectly at liberty to sport away my time and money in the most gentlemanlike manner.  You may easily imagine that I spent much of both out of town with such gallant fellows as knew how to make the most of an open forest country.  The very recollection of those amusements gives me fresh spirits, and creates a warm wish for a repetition of them.  One morning I saw, through

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Journeys Through Bookland — Volume 5 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.