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novelty and curiosity, distributed amongst the persons present. The lemon was served in the same manner, and distributed among the com
pany at tea.
On our return home, we found a similar present sent us by the same merchant who had made the gift to the director's lady. Following the fashion of Berezov, I also cut up the apple in small slices, and spreading them over with sugar, invited the whole family of my landlord to partake of them, repeating with pride : “ This grows in our country.”
It is strange what shapes vanity will assume, and into what extravagancies it leads us. Here was I perfectly charmed at the admiration which these poor simple people expressed at the flavour of the apple, as if it were a homage rendered to myself, and I had contributed to its taste and smell. What wonder then that people boast with so much pride, as we see them daily, of the great deeds of their ancestors, or of the high dignities they have possessed, or of some celebrated relatives to whom they are allied in the remotest degree! The apple on which I expatiated had not, perhaps, even come
from my native country, yet I hailed it as a token of its superiority.
On the same day, the son of my landlord brought home a wild goose, which he had killed, proving that the shooting-season had commenced, which was a great satisfaction to us all.
Beginning of a thaw—Wild fowl-Arrival of the birds
- Shooting excursion-Native sport-Breaking up of the ice-Violent gale—The waves of the Soswa.
SPRING at last approached in all its imposing splendour, such as can hardly be witnessed elsewhere. The snow, yielding to the glowing rays of the sun, gradually disappeared, and vast volumes of water poured with deafening fury and in innumerable torrents into the capacious channel of the Soswa, which, held fettered during the long winter in icy bonds, now began to throw off the frost, leaving ice only in the mid-stream. The waters rose to a great height, and waged unceasing war with the masses of
ice, but they still rose up like an impregnable rampart, in the midst of the flood, forming a spectacle that could not be contemplated without wonder and awe.
Despite this menacing aspect of the river, man did not hesitate to assert his dominion over its rapid currents and eddies. Heedless of danger, hunting parties, composed equally of young and old, hastened to enjoy the field sports, from which winter had so long debarred them, and with rifles slung over their shoulders, or nets and snares in their hands, crossed in their boats the swollen stream, drawing them over the ice in the mid-channel by main strength, and launching them again in the clear water. Then they sought the most favourable spot for the pursuit of game, which at this season consists of swans, wild geese, and wild ducks.
At those points on the banks of the river, where the swans congregate in great numbers, a booth is erected to conceal the hunter. After a little time, the swans become used to the hut, and cease to be afraid of it. It is occupied by a hunter, who, to draw them near the booth,
lays out decoys on the water, formed of swanskins, stuffed with hay; and when the birds thus allured to the spot alight in the midst of them, the sportsman fires upon them from his retreat, and destroys a great number.
The flesh of swans is hard, and by no means savoury. Having plenty of superior game, the Russian population never eat it, but shoot the swans for their skins, which are much in demand. The Berezovians convert them into blankets, and they are very warm, soft, and agreeable. The only other bed-covering used here is fur. The swan-skins are usually dressed by Ostiaks, who have a peculiar mode of preparing them, which consists chiefly in sucking out the fat from the fleshy protuberances, and then tanning the skin.
The flesh of wild geese is also little esteemed, and is commonly very
lean. Of all birds, the most prized are wild ducks, which form the principal food of the Siberians. They are met with on the opposite bank of the Soswa, where the country is level, and for a great part of the spring under water, while forests of willows, rising from innumerable little islets, afford the