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of the hostile elements, gave way, and began to move with all its stupendous bulk northward, carrying everything before it.
Gradually, before our eyes, the different localities began to change with the moving ice; the road over the river to Tobolsk planted on both sides with green cedar branches, the various paths trodden across the ice by human steps, the holes cut for fishing, and those for the use of cattle, and which were fenced around with branches of fir and larch, looking like so many beautiful green bowers on a white plain—all these objects, on which our eyes had been accustomed to dwell with delight during the winter, now broke up, and with slow, silent, and solemn motion, set out on their distant pilgrimage.
This migration to distant regions, of things so familiar to us, and which we had no hope of ever seeing again, had something in it peculiarly mournful; and the objects themselves, as though responding to our feelings, seemed, by their lingering movements, to depart with regret, still murmuring to us their eternal farewell. Thus it fares always in this world. Everything is transient, and all in turn pass away.
The whole pack of the ice, with its paths, and pits, and branches, suddenly halted lower down the river, at a distance of about a verst from Berezov, where a sharp angle impeded the current, and here it seemed to bid us a reluctant adieu. Prompted by I know not what motive, I walked to the spot, and felt delighted to behold once more each well-remembered object. Not until some hours had elapsed, did the huge pile take another start, and pass away for ever. The close of the day saw the river free, and its blue waves floating tranquilly and proudly along, without encountering any obstacle.
The moment was a solemn and impressive one;
for I knew that there was now no road to Berezov, either by land or water, and communication with other communities being for the time impracticable, a lull seemed to fall on
emotions. My feelings became dormant and torpid. It seemed as though I had already passed the threshold of eternity, and was cut off from
kind. But this isolation was not of long continuance. After the lapse of another day, the mail unexpectedly arrived; having been stopped
only a short distance from the town, and come on as soon as the river was clear of ice. How much consolation did that mail bring me, after such great anxiety and apprehension ! So many letters from so many persons, and this all at once. My heart beat violently; my tears flowed; my spirit, prostrated by feebleness, again gathered strength, from reliance on God. I felt as if regenerated; and my soul was again alive to impressions from the outward world.
It was now spring; but how different from the spring of our own country. There was no genial heat, no verdure, no flowers sprouting from the soil as in our fields and meadows. What is called spring here, is a deluge of water inundating the country, the looming of boats on that vast expanse, and the catching and shooting of birds, pursued with more activity than ever at this season. Every night secures fresh booty, and every one is stocked with all kinds of birds. Geese, swans, and ducks, lie heaped, like corn in a barn, up to the roof, awaiting the thrifty housewife's hands
and art, to preserve them for use during the
There was now no possibility of stirring out of doors, it was so wet and cold; and yet we could not but long to inhale the fresh air of spring. We, therefore, agreed to take a boat and, like the rest of the inhabitants, proceed on a duck-catching excursion. A sharp day seemed to guarantee us against rain, and confirmed our determination.
Our party consisted of Dr. Wakulinski, Josephine, Madame X-- and myself; and besides ourselves, there were several of the doctor's dependants, whom he brought to assist. Our landlord lent us his nets. Providing ourselves with everything necessary for the intended sport, and taking some provisions for our supper, we set out at an early hour for a place situated about fifteen versts from Berezov, and considered to be most favourable for the purpose. . Unluckily, before we could reach the spot, and indeed when we were scarcely midway, we were overtaken by a violent storm. Our boat was fearfully rocked by the furious waves, which
seemed as if they would ingulf her, and beating against the sides, covered us with their spray. It required the utmost skill of the steersman to place her bows so as to break the waves and prevent her from capsising. In this dilemma, we came to the resolution not to proceed any farther, but to disembark on the nearest spot that we could reach with safety, and wait till the storm was over.
But even this was not accomplished without difficulty, the gale blowing furiously. We were obliged, to our great peril, to recross the river where the waves ran highest, and where we had to struggle against both them and the current ; but at last we succeeded in running into a bay which, protected by a forest of willows, afforded comparatively smooth water. Here we disembarked with all our things, and lit a fire.
The tea-kettle, which we had taken care not to forget, was now placed on the glowing embers, and preparations made for tea. Meanwhile, Madame X—and the Doctor went off with their guns, promising to bring us some game for our supper, so that we might have a sufficient stock of provisions when we reached