WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume V Part 35

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume V Part 35 – Hi, thanks for coming to my web. This site provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including fantasy, romance, action, adventure, reincarnation, harem, mystery, cultivation,magic, sci-fi, etc. You may read online webnovel in this website.

Journeys Through Bookland is a Webnovel made by Charles Herbert Sylvester. This lightnovel is currently completed.

If you are looking for “Journeys Through Bookland Volume V Part 35”, you are coming to the best website.

Read WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume V Part 35

JOHN (_the Porter_).

In this volume a few of his most amusing stories are printed–all, perhaps, that it is worth while to read.

I

Some years before my beard announced approaching manhood, or, in other words, when I was neither man nor boy, but between both, I expressed in repeated conversations a strong desire of seeing the world, from which I was discouraged by my parents, though my father had been no inconsiderable traveler himself, as will appear before I have reached the end of my singular, and, I may add, interesting adventures. A cousin, by my mother’s side, took a liking to me, often said I was a fine, forward youth, and was much inclined to gratify my curiosity. His eloquence had more effect than mine, for my father consented to my accompanying him in a voyage to the island of Ceylon, where his uncle had resided as governor many years.

We sailed from Amsterdam with despatches from their High Mightinesses the States of Holland. The only circ.u.mstance which happened on our voyage worth relating was the wonderful effects of a storm, which had torn up by the roots a great number of trees of enormous bulk and height, in an island where we lay at anchor to take in wood and water; some of these trees weighed many tons, yet they were carried by the wind so amazingly high that they appeared like the feathers of small birds floating in the air, for they were at least five miles above the earth: however, as soon as the storm subsided they all fell perpendicularly into their respective places, and took root again, except the largest, which happened, when it was blown into the air, to have a man and his wife, a very honest old couple, upon its branches, gathering cuc.u.mbers (in this part of the globe that useful vegetable grows upon trees): the weight of this couple, as the tree descended, overbalanced the trunk, and brought it down in a horizontal position: it fell upon the chief man of the island, and killed him on the spot; he had quitted his house in the storm, under an apprehension of its falling upon him, and was returning through his own garden when this fortunate accident happened.

The word fortunate here requires some explanation. This chief was a man of a very avaricious and oppressive disposition, and though he had no family, the natives of the island were half starved by his oppressive and infamous impositions.

The very goods which he had thus taken from them were spoiling in his stores, while the poor wretches from whom they were plundered were pining in poverty. Though the destruction of this tyrant was accidental, the people chose the cuc.u.mber-gatherers for their governors, as a mark of their grat.i.tude for destroying, though accidentally, their late tyrant.

After we had repaired the damages we sustained in this remarkable storm, and taken leave of the new governor and his lady, we sailed with a fair wind for the object of our voyage.

In about six weeks we arrived at Ceylon, where we were received with great marks of friendship and true politeness. The following singular adventures may not prove unentertaining.

After we had resided at Ceylon about a fortnight I accompanied one of the governor’s brothers upon a shooting party. He was a strong, athletic man, and being used to that climate (for he had resided there some years), he bore the violent heat of the sun much better than I could; in our excursion he had made a considerable progress through a thick wood when I was only at the entrance.

Near the banks of a large piece of water, which had engaged my attention, I thought I heard a rustling noise behind; on turning about I was almost petrified (as who would not be?) at the sight of a lion, which was evidently approaching with the intention of satisfying his appet.i.te with my poor carca.s.s, and that without asking my consent. What was to be done in this horrible dilemma? I had not even a moment for reflection; my piece was only charged with swan-shot, and I had no other about me; however, though I could have no idea of killing such an animal with that weak kind of ammunition, yet I had some hopes of frightening him by the report, and perhaps of wounding him also. I immediately let fly, without waiting till he was within reach, and the report did but enrage him, for he now quickened his pace, and seemed to approach me full speed: I attempted to escape, but that only added (if an addition could be made) to my distress; for the moment I turned about, I found a large crocodile, with his mouth extended almost ready to receive me. On my right hand was the piece of water before mentioned, and on my left a deep precipice, said to have, as I have since learned, a receptacle at the bottom for venomous creatures; in short, I gave myself up as lost, for the lion was now upon his hind legs, just in the act of seizing me; I fell involuntarily to the ground with fear, and, as it afterwards appeared, he sprang over me. I lay some time in a situation which no language can describe, expecting to feel his teeth or talons in some part of me every moment. After waiting in this prostrate situation a few seconds I heard a violent but unusual noise, different from any sound that had ever before a.s.sailed my ears; nor is it at all to be wondered at, when I inform you from whence it proceeded: after listening for some time I ventured to raise my head and look round, when, to my unspeakable joy, I perceived the lion had, by the eagerness with which he sprung at me, jumped forward as I fell, into the crocodile’s mouth! which, as before observed, was wide open; the head of the one stuck in the throat of the other! and they were struggling to extricate themselves! I fortunately recollected my hunting knife, which was by my side; with this instrument I severed the lion’s head at one blow, and the body fell at my feet! I then, with the b.u.t.t end of my fowling piece, rammed the head farther into the throat of the crocodile, and destroyed him by suffocation, for he could neither gorge nor eject it.

[Ill.u.s.tration: THE LION HAD JUMPED INTO THE CROCODILE’S MOUTH]

Soon after I had thus gained a complete victory over my two powerful adversaries, my companion arrived in search of me; for finding I did not follow him into the wood, he returned, apprehending I had lost my way, or met with some accident.

After mutual congratulations we measured the crocodile, which was just forty feet in length.

As soon as we had related this extraordinary adventure to the governor, he sent a wagon and servants who brought home the two carca.s.ses. The lion’s skin was properly preserved with the hair on, after which it was made into tobacco pouches and presented by me, upon our return to Holland, to the burgomasters, who in return requested my acceptance of a thousand ducats.

The skin of the crocodile was stuffed in the usual manner, and makes a capital article in their public museum at Amsterdam, where the exhibitor relates the whole story to each spectator, with such additions as he thinks proper.

II

I set off from Rome on a journey to Russia, in the midst of winter, from a just notion that frost and snow must of course mend the roads, which every traveler had described as uncommonly bad through the northern parts of Germany, Poland, Courland, and Livonia. I went on horseback, as the most convenient manner of traveling: I was but lightly clothed, and of this I felt the inconvenience the more I advanced northeast. What must not a poor old man have suffered in that severe weather and climate, whom I saw on a bleak common in Poland, lying on the road, helpless, shivering and hardly having wherewithal to cover his nakedness? I pitied the poor soul: though I felt the severity of the air myself, I threw my mantle over him, and immediately I heard a voice from the heavens blessing me for that piece of charity, saying, “You will be rewarded, my son, for this in time.”

I went on: night and darkness overtook me. No village was to be seen.

The country was covered with snow, and I was unacquainted with the road.

Tired, I alighted and fastened my horse to something like a pointed stump of a tree, which appeared above the snow; for the sake of safety I placed my pistols under my arm, and lay down on the snow, where I slept so soundly that I did not open my eyes till full daylight. It is not easy to conceive my astonishment to find myself in the midst of a village, lying in a churchyard; nor was my horse to be seen, but I heard him soon after neigh somewhere above me. On looking upwards I beheld him hanging by his bridle to the weatherc.o.c.k of the steeple. Matters were now very plain to me: the village had been covered with snow over night; a sudden change of weather had taken place; I had sunk down to the churchyard whilst asleep, gently, and in the same proportion as the snow had melted away; and what in the dark I had taken to be a stump of a little tree appearing above the snow, to which I had tied my horse, proved to have been the cross or weatherc.o.c.k of the steeple!

Without long consideration, I took one of my pistols, shot the bridle in two, brought down the horse, and proceeded on my journey.

III

For several months (as it was some time before I could obtain a commission in the army) I was perfectly at liberty to sport away my time and money in the most gentlemanlike manner. You may easily imagine that I spent much of both out of town with such gallant fellows as knew how to make the most of an open forest country. The very recollection of those amus.e.m.e.nts gives me fresh spirits, and creates a warm wish for a repet.i.tion of them. One morning I saw, through the windows of my bedroom, that a large pond not far off was covered with wild ducks. In an instant I took my gun from the corner, ran downstairs, and out of the house in such a hurry that I imprudently struck my face against the doorpost. Fire flew out of my eyes, but it did not prevent my intention; I soon came within shot, when, leveling my piece, I observed to my sorrow, that even the flint had sprung from the c.o.c.k by the violence of the shock I had just received. There was no time to be lost. I presently remembered the effect it had on my eyes, therefore opened the pan, leveled my piece against the wild fowls, and my fist against one of my eyes. A hearty blow drew sparks again; the shot went off, and I killed fifty brace of ducks, twenty widgeons, and three couple of teals.

IV

I dare say you have heard of the hunter and sportsman’s saint and protector, Saint Hubert, and of the n.o.ble stag which appeared to him in the forest, with the holy cross between his antlers. I have paid my homage to that saint every year in good fellowship, and seen this stag a thousand times either painted in churches, or embroidered in the stars of his knights; so that, upon the honor and conscience of a good sportsman, I hardly know whether there may not have been formerly, or whether there are not such crossed stags even at this present day. But let me rather tell what I have seen myself. Having one day spent all my shot, I found myself unexpectedly in presence of a stately stag, looking at me as unconcernedly as if he had known of my empty pouches. I charged immediately with powder, and upon it a good handful of cherrystones, for I had sucked the fruit as far as the hurry would permit. Thus I let fly at him, and hit him just on the middle of the forehead between his antlers; it stunned him–he staggered–yet he made off. A year or two after, being with a party in the same forest, I beheld a n.o.ble stag with a fine full-grown cherry tree above ten feet high between his antlers. I immediately recollected my former adventure, looked upon him as my property, and brought him to the ground by one shot, which at once gave me the haunch and cherry sauce; for the tree was covered with the richest fruit, the like I had never tasted before. Who knows but some pa.s.sionate holy sportsman, or sporting abbot or bishop may have shot, planted and fixed the cross between the antlers of Saint Hubert’s stag, in a manner similar to this?

[Ill.u.s.tration: I BEHELD A n.o.bLE STAG]

V

I remember with pleasure and tenderness a superb Lithuanian horse, which no money could have bought. He became mine by an accident, which gave me an opportunity of showing my horsemanship to a great advantage. I was at Count Przobossky’s n.o.ble country seat in Lithuania, and remained with the ladies at tea in the drawing-room, while the gentlemen were down in the yard to see a young horse of blood which had just arrived from the stud. We suddenly heard a noise of distress; I hastened downstairs, and found the horse so unruly that n.o.body durst approach or mount him. The most resolute hors.e.m.e.n stood dismayed and aghast; despondency was expressed in every countenance, when, in one leap, I was on his back, took him by surprise, and worked him quite into gentleness and obedience, with the best display of horsemanship I was master of. Fully to show this to the ladies, and save them unnecessary trouble, I forced him to leap in at one of the open windows of the tea room, walk round several times, pace, trot, and gallop, and at last made him mount the tea table, there to repeat his lessons in a pretty style of miniature which was exceedingly pleasing to the ladies, for he performed them amazingly well, and did not break either cup or saucer. It placed me so high in their opinion, and so well in that of the n.o.ble lord, that, with his usual politeness, he begged I would accept of this young horse, and ride him to conquest and honor in the campaign against the Turks, which was soon to be opened, under the command of Count Munich.

We had very hot work once in the van of the army, when we drove the Turks into Oczakow. My spirited Lithuanian had almost brought me into a sc.r.a.pe: I had an advanced forepost, and saw the enemy coming against me in a cloud of dust, which left me rather uncertain about their actual numbers and real intentions: to wrap myself up in a similar cloud was common prudence, but would not have much advanced my knowledge, or answered the end for which I had been sent out; therefore I let my flankers on both wings spread to the right and left, and make what dust they could, and I myself led on straight upon the enemy, to have a nearer sight of them; in this I was gratified, for they stood and fought, till, for fear of my flankers, they began to move off rather disorderly. This was the moment to fall upon them with spirit; we broke them entirely–made a terrible havoc amongst them, and drove them not only back to a walled town in their rear, but even through it, contrary to our most sanguine expectation.

The swiftness of my Lithuanian enabled me to be foremost in the pursuit; and seeing the enemy fairly flying through the opposite gate, I thought it would be prudent to stop in the market place, to order the men to rendezvous. I stopped, gentlemen; but judge of my astonishment when in this market place I saw not one of my hussars about me! Are they scouring the other streets? or what is become of them? They could not be far off, and must, at all events, soon join me. In that expectation I walked my panting Lithuanian to a spring in this market place, and let him drink. He drank uncommonly, with an eagerness not to be satisfied, but natural enough; for when I looked round for my men, what should I see, gentlemen! the hind part of the poor creature–croup and legs–were missing, as if he had been cut in two, and the water ran out as it came in, without refreshing or doing him any good! How it could have happened was quite a mystery to me, till I returned with him to the town gate.

There I saw that when I rushed in pell-mell with the flying enemy, they had dropped the portcullis (a heavy falling door, with sharp spikes at the bottom, let down suddenly to prevent the entrance of an enemy into a fortified town) unperceived by me, which had totally cut off his hind part, that still lay quivering on the outside of the gate. It would have been an irreparable loss, had not our farrier contrived to bring both parts together while hot. He sewed them up with sprigs and young shoots of laurels that were at hand; the wound healed, and, what could not have happened but to so glorious a horse, the sprigs took root in his body, grew up, and formed a bower over me; so that afterwards I could go upon many other expeditions in the shade of my own and my horse’s laurels.

[Ill.u.s.tration: THE HIND PART OF THE POOR CREATURE WAS MISSING]

VI

Success was not always with me. I had the misfortune to be overpowered by numbers, to be made prisoner of war; and, what is worse, but always usual among the Turks, to be sold for a slave. In that state of humiliation my daily task was not very hard and laborious, but rather singular and irksome. It was to drive the Sultan’s bees every morning to their pasture grounds, to attend them all day long, and against night to drive them back to their hives. One evening I missed a bee, and soon observed that two bears had fallen upon her to tear her to pieces for the honey she carried. I had nothing like an offensive weapon in my hands but the silver hatchet, which is the badge of the Sultan’s gardeners and farmers. I threw it at the robbers, with an intention to frighten them away, and set the poor bee at liberty; but, by an unlucky turn of my arm, it flew upwards, and continued rising till it reached the moon. How should I recover it? how fetch it down again? I recollected that Turkey-beans grow very quick, and run up to an astonishing height. I planted one immediately; it grew, and actually fastened itself to one of the moon’s horns. I had no more to do now but to climb up by it into the moon, where I safely arrived, and had a troublesome piece of business before I could find my silver hatchet, in a place where everything has the brightness of silver; at last, however, I found it in a heap of chaff and chopped straw. I was now for returning: but, alas! the heat of the sun had dried up my bean; it was totally useless for my descent; so I fell to work and twisted me a rope of that chopped straw, as long and as well as I could make it. This I fastened to one of the moon’s horns, and slid down to the end of it.

Here I held myself fast with the left hand, and with the hatchet in my right, I cut the long, now useless end of the upper part, which, when tied to the lower end, brought me a good deal lower: this repeated splicing and tying of the rope did not improve its quality, or bring me down to the Sultan’s farm. I was four or five miles from the earth at least when it broke; I fell to the ground with such amazing violence that I found myself stunned, and in a hole nine fathoms deep at least, made by the weight of my body falling from so great a height: I recovered, but knew not how to get out again; however, I dug slopes or steps with my finger-nails, and easily accomplished it.

Peace was soon after concluded with the Turks, and gaining my liberty I left Saint Petersburg at the time of that singular revolution, when the emperor in his cradle, his mother, the Duke of Brunswick, her father, Field-Marshal Munich, and many others were sent to Siberia. The winter was then so uncommonly severe all over Europe that ever since the sun seems to be frost-bitten. At my return to this place I felt on the road greater inconveniences than those I had experienced on my setting out.

I traveled post, and finding myself in a narrow lane, bade the postilion give a signal with his horn, that other travelers might not meet us in the narrow pa.s.sage. He blew with all his might; but his endeavors were in vain; he could not make the horn sound, which was unaccountable, and rather unfortunate, for soon after we found ourselves in the presence of another coach coming the other way: there was no proceeding; however, I got out of my carriage, and being pretty strong, placed it, wheels and all, upon my head: I then jumped over a hedge about nine feet high (which, considering the weight of the coach, was rather difficult) into a field, and came out again by another jump into the road beyond the other carriage: I then went back for the horses, and placing one upon my head, and the other under my left arm, by the same means brought them to my coach, put to, and proceeded to an inn at the end of our stage. I should have told you that the horse under my arm was very spirited, and not above four years old; in making my second spring over the hedge, he expressed great dislike to that violent kind of motion by kicking and snorting; however, I confined his hind legs by putting them into my coat pocket. After we arrived at the inn my postilion and I refreshed ourselves; he hung his horn on a peg near the kitchen fire; I sat on the other side.

Suddenly we heard a _tereng! tereng! teng! teng!_ We looked round, and now found the reason why the postilion had not been able to sound his horn; his tunes were frozen up in the horn, and came out now by thawing, plain enough, and much to the credit of the driver; so that the honest fellow entertained us for some time with a variety of tunes, without putting his mouth to the horn–The King of Prussia’s March–Over the Hill and over the Dale–with many other favorite tunes; at length the thawing entertainment concluded, as I shall this short account of my Russian travels.

VII

I embarked at Portsmouth, in a first-rate English man-of-war, of one hundred guns, and fourteen hundred men, for North America. Nothing worth relating happened till we arrived within three hundred leagues of the river Saint Lawrence when the ship struck with amazing force against (as we supposed) a rock; however, upon heaving the lead, we could find no bottom, even with three hundred fathom. What made this circ.u.mstance the more wonderful, and indeed beyond all comprehension, was, that the violence of the shock was such that we lost our rudder, broke our bow-sprit in the middle, and split all our masts from top to bottom, two of which went by the board; a poor fellow, who was aloft, furling the main-sheet, was flung at least three leagues from the ship; but he fortunately saved his life by laying hold of the tail of a large sea-gull, who brought him back, and lodged him on the very spot from whence he was thrown. Another proof of the violence of the shock was the force with which the people between decks were driven against the floors above them; my head particularly was pressed into my stomach, where it continued some months before it recovered its natural situation. Whilst we were all in a state of astonishment at the general and unaccountable confusion in which we were involved, the whole was suddenly explained by the appearance of a large whale, who had been basking, asleep, within sixteen feet of the surface of the water. This animal was so much displeased with the disturbance which our ship had given him, for in our pa.s.sage we had with our rudder scratched his nose, that he beat in all the gallery and part of the quarter deck with his tail, and almost at the same instant took the main-sheet anchor, which was suspended, as it usually is, from the head, between his teeth, and ran away with the ship, at least sixty leagues, at the rate of twelve leagues an hour, when fortunately the cable broke, and we lost both the whale and the anchor. However, upon our return to Europe, some months after, we found the same whale within a few leagues of the same spot, floating dead upon the water; it measured above half a mile in length. As we could take but a small quant.i.ty of such a monstrous animal on board, we got our boats out, and with much difficulty cut off his head, where, to our great joy, we found the anchor, and above forty fathom of the cable concealed on the left side of his mouth, just under his tongue. (Perhaps this was the cause of his death, as that side of his tongue was much swelled, with a great degree of inflammation.) This was the only extraordinary circ.u.mstance of this voyage.

———-

Looking for another chapters? or another lightnovel? Simple .. just use search menu, you may find it by title or by author.

Related Posts

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume X Part 48

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume X Part 48 – Hi, welcome to my place. This web site provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including action, adventure, magic,…

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Vii Part 43

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Vii Part 43 – Hello, thanks for coming to my site. My site provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including action, adventure,…

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Vi Part 24

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Vi Part 24 – Hey, thanks for coming to my web. My place provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including fantasy, romance,…

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Vi Part 14

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Vi Part 14 – Hi, welcome to my website. This website provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including action, adventure, magic, fantasy,…

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume V Part 6

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume V Part 6 – Hey, welcome to my web site. This website provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including fantasy, romance, action,…

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Iii Part 40

WebNovel Journeys Through Bookland Volume Iii Part 40 – Hey, thanks for coming to my web. This web site provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including fantasy,…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *