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one pointed before me, still crying : “See the crow, the crow !"
“And where is it?” I inquired, “ Am I, too, to see it? What does it mean ?”
“ The crow brings the spring," was the joyful
I then comprehended that the crow at Berezov was what the sky-lark is in our country. Of all the feathered tribe, that bird is the first that, at the close of winter, makes its appearance here after its migration, and thus is hailed as the harbinger of spring.
The crow is followed by the snow-birds (sneigurki) which are very small in size, with white and black-spotted feathers. They arrive at the beginning of spring, in immense numbers, and may
be seen in dense flocks. The appearance of these birds puts all the young boys on the alert, and to allure them into captivity they spread corn on the snow, leading into snares made of hair, in which the poor birds get their feet and bodies entangled--and so are caught. By this means, hundreds can be captured in a day. Another mode of catching them is by extending a large net on the ground, with some
corn strewed underneath, and when a great number are feeding to draw the net over, by means of a cord at the end, so as to fall on them, and so take them by the score.
The snow-birds may be considered the first game brought by the returning spring. They make one of the nicest and most delicate dishes that can come on the table. They are so fat, that when put in the oven to bake, the fat must be constantly poured off, or there will be such a quantity, that the birds, when served up, will taste as if they had been boiled rather than baked.
Despite all the indications of coming spring, the whole surface of the earth continued to be covered with snow. Some days, indeed, the frost was not so severe, and there were appearances of a contest between the sun and the snow, but victory always remained on the side of the winter. The window panes were still thickly incrusted with ice, and the ice even encased the leaves of a cucumber, which I was trying to rear, and had placed in a box in the window to catch the rays of the sun.
The ice on the river was a little broken, but to no extent, and May
had considerably advanced without confirming the tokens of spring.
This unsettled state of things frequently prevents the transmission of the mails. It is usual, when the mail is stopped at a great distance from town, in consequence of the melting of ice, to forward the letter bags by means of sledges drawn by dogs. This, however, seldom happens, and the custom of using these animals as a means of conveyance is wearing away in favour of horses when near home, and of reindeer on more distant journeys. Only poorer people, who have no horses, do sometimes still employ dogs in winter.
The Berezovian dogs are somewhat larger than our Polish watch-dogs. Their hair is long and dense, and for the most part black ; but some have white and yellow spots about their neck. They are extremely docile, and though possessed of great strength, never attack strangers, nor even bark to frighten them, except at night. In this respect their instinct is wonderful, inasmuch as it might seem that they understood how misplaced their excessive vigilance would be in a place like Berezov, where the security
both of person and of property has much stronger guarantees in the character of the people, than is elsewhere afforded either by personal watchfulness or by the protection of the law.
The rays of the sun, though not strong enough to melt the snow while subject to the reaction of frost, added in a great degree to the cheerfulness of our apartments by pouring a stream of brightness through the window. This semblance of spring awakened in us a desire for a walk; and as it was the 3rd of May*-a day ever memorable to us, and so dear and so sacred throughout our native landwe determined to celebrate it by breaking the bounds of our prison, and breathing the pure air. We consequently strolled out, but soon found reason to regret our boldness. The ground was so excessively slippery, that it was impossible to walk on it, and Josephine, was afraid of falling at every step. I assisted her for a time
* The 3rd of May is the anniversary of the celebrated Polish constitution of 1791, for which Kosciusko fought, and for the destruction of which Russia, Prussia, and Austria combined, and then dismembered the ancient kingdom of Poland.
as well as I could, but my own footing was very precarious, and in the end I proved but a treacherous support; for one of my feet slipping, we both fell in the snow together. This convinced us that it would be unsafe to prolong our ramble, and happening to be near the residence of the director of police, we embraced the opportunity to make a call and get a little rest.
On entering the house, we found his young wife just engaged in dispatching a servant with a present to us. It is customary with the Berezovian merchants, on their return from the Irbit fair, to bring some trifling articles of European manufacture, as souvenirs to their friends at home. This amiable lady received a present of this description, and being desirous that we should share it, had appropriated a portion to us, consisting of a frozen apple and a frozen lemon. Our calling saved her the necessity of transmitting these rare dainties, and we were invited to eat them on the spot.
The frozen apple was cut in small thin slices, spread over with sugar, and together with other preserves and sweetmeats, was, as a great