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birds a favourite resort. The citizens of Berezov, conversant with their ways and habits, select as the best place for sport, the narrow neck of one of the islands, leaving an open sheet of water on either side, where poles are stuck in the ground, about fifteen yards high, terminating at the top with prongs,
wheels or pulleys, as a means for winding up nets. With the aid of this small machinery, a large network, made of threads, is extended between the poles, and across the passage, which it shuts up like a gate.
The net being arranged, one of the sportsmen gathers into his hands all the cords by means of which it is held in the air, and winding them fast round a stick, remains concealed behind the trunk of a tree till a flock of birds approaches. Just as the grey hour of twilight —which at this season is the only night at Berezov—is drawing near, swans, geese, and ducks appear in clouds in the air, which resounds with the flapping of their wings. Indeed their numbers surpass anything that can be imagined, and must be seen to be believed. Each species of bird has its own particular
note, and it struck me as a chaunt marvellously solemn—a hymn raised by so many myriads of creatures, in accents which the Creator himself had taught them. What are our organs with their grand diapasons, in comparison with an anthem so sublime, chorussed by the voice of nature ?
With their notes thus mingled, they enter the passages between the islands, and approach the nets of the sportsman, who, as soon as he sees a sufficient number within range, draws his net together, and encloses a host of captives. But as May advances, night entirely disappears, and it is then very difficult, to pursue this sport, as the ducks see the net, and will not enter the passage.
The number of the feathered tribe that come to spend the summer in the environs of Berezov is prodigious, and beyond all power of description. Being called by our landlord to the river side to witness the first flight of birds, I felt quite stupified, so great was my amazement at the extraordinary scene that presented itself to my sight. Far as the eye could reach appeared countless chains of ducks, geese, swans,
and cranes, traversing the sky without any interruption, like so many streams, all in the same northward direction, insomuch that not for a moment was there a clear space in the air ; and the immense expanse of water below was completely covered with them, as thickly as the stars stud the firmament on a clear night. I adored in silent reverence, the all-provident wisdom which extended such a large share of its bounty to so desolate a place as Berezov.
At moments like these the soul is disinclined to solitude, and we ardently long to communicate our impressions to others. I therefore hastened home to relate to my companions all I had seen on the river. On hearing my account, Dr. Wakulinski immediately took a fowling-piece and sallied forth, and Josephine and myself accompanied him to witness the sport.
On beholding such a quantity of game in every direction, we flattered ourselves that every one of the Doctor's shots must secure a rich booty; and that we should return loaded with game. But it was not long before we were convinced of our error, and found that success was not so easy as it at first appeared. Every
time the Doctor approached, the birds, without betraying the least alarm, gravely withdrew beyond gunshot, and there remained in security, and no sooner had he discharged his piece, than they returned to their former quarters. Thus the booty, in proportion as it was rich and attractive, eluded his grasp just as he stretched his hand to seize it. Our sport, therefore, ended as it begun, and we returned home, tired, and covered with mud; having on our way to wade through numerous pools and rills of water, which rendered the walk anything but pleasant. Our friend, Madame X—-, who went out with nets, had better luck, and caught thirtyseven ducks.
The Berezovians have various methods of procuring supplies of game, but they are very indifferent marksmen. None of them can kill a bird in flight, or an animal in running, nor can they conceive how this can be done. They think it impossible to take aim without having some fixed point to rest the gun on.
When they cannot find the trunk, or branch of a tree for this purpose, and have not the assistance of a pitchfork, with which their arms are
usually accompanied, to serve as a stand, they rest the gun on their knee.
The Ostiaks are reputed to be far better marksmen than the Russians. They shoot admirably with the bow, which is still in use with them, and manage their fire-arms with some skill. And this is not to be wondered at. Necessity is a far better teacher than art. An Ostiak's subsistence depends on his own efforts, and even that of the Russian population is for the most part obtained from him, in exchange for other commodities. The former, consequently, becomes superior in personal skill, while the latter excels in those qualities required in commercial transactions. The bows used by the Ostiaks are of enormous size; and no small amount of strength is required to bend them properly.
The 13th of May was one of the great days of the year in our little community. The mass of ice on the Soswa, which had previously been immovable, and despite the increased volume of currents beneath, and the deluge of waters above, blocked up the river with its frozen masses, at last, after so long braving the shocks