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He took a close aim, as they never fled far ; and we saw the feathers fly from their bodies as they were struck by the shot; but generally this was the only result, and they continued to soar unharmed overhead, as if in mockery of the attempt' on their lives. At last, the Doctor succeeded in hitting one under the wing, where it had but few feathers, and thus disabled it from flying. The wounded bird fell to the ground, and we bore it off in triumph.
The cholewa is the same size as the wild goose. The feathers are quite white, and so remarkably thick and compact, that the small shot is thrown off without injuring the bird. The feet are yellow, and the beak crooked.
We brought our captive home alive; but had much trouble with him on our way, as he struggled much, and bit us fiercely. However, his sufferings were not of long duration, for he died the next day.
There is another species of bird here of equally white plumage, and feeding likewise on
fish, but much smaller. These birds are seagulls, called by the natives martishki. Like the cholewas, they hover over the fishermen, to participate in their booty.
Beginning of autumn-Walk on the banks of the Soswa
- New street- Tameness of Berezovian dogs-Encounter with an Ostiak-Civilised and primitive life contrasted.
At the latter part of July we had already had hoar-frost ; and, throughout the month of August, the whole country bore a mournful autumnal aspect. The river, which but a few weeks before was owerflowing its banks, had now dwindled to a moderate stream. The grass had become yellow, the trees lost their foliage, and the leaves scattered on the ground were whirled to and fro by the wind. It grew cold, cloudy, and gusty. The whole atmosphere was impregnated with humid vapours. The days, formerly so clear, became a dim twilight.
Such was the uninviting bleak aspect of nature out of doors; and within, things were not less mournful. My Josephine was sorrowful and pensive. She was startled and discomposed at the slightest blast of wind. Her betrothed had gone on a journey to Obdorsk, whither he had been called by duty; and to her great agony, a violent storm had prevailed for two days, lashing the waves of the Soswa into fury, and beating unceasingly against the window-shutters. Josephine, overwhelmed with anxiety, moaned, and sighed, and sobbed without intermission.
With such melancholy objects around, my thoughts, whether I would or not, naturally assumed the same tint. I had also reasons of my own for being sorrowful, and was often at a loss how to drag through the long and wearisome hours of evening.
Sometimes the weather changed for the better; and although it continued chilly, at least it did not rain. The streets were more or less dry; and one day, anxious to enjoy the few hours of fine weather which nature here so sparingly granted, I resolved to take a walk; autumn at Berezov being most favourable for such recrea
tion if not wet, as the myriads of mosquitoes have then disappeared. Accordingly, towards evening I wrapped myself up in a warm pelisse, and with a handkerchief tied round my face, sallied forth, together with Josephine, who had expressed a wish to accompany me.
I guessed her motive, and we went straight to the bank of the Soswa.
The sun was still over the horizon, and was just laving his glorious orb in the river when we arrived. We came in good time to behold him sink into his nocturnal couch, when a lurid lustre spread over the sky, and was reflected in the depths of the river, while it illumined with uncertain light all the surrounding objects. Once more we cast a look far up the river, till our sight was lost in the distance-a desert without end; but the being sought by the anxious eyes of Josephine, was nowhere to be
My friend heaved a deep sigh, and returned home. As for myself, having for some days taken no exercise, I continued my walk, and sauntered away in another direction. This brought me to a new street, projected by the government, and, as yet, only partly inhabited.