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CHAP. XX.

LEAVE PETERSBURG-THE LITTLE SWEDE-ADVENTURES AT STRELNA-NARVA-BEARS-BEDS DORPT--TEUTONIC KNIGHTS AND

ING.

WHIMSICAL REVENGE-WHIPPING OF BOORS--BROTHERS-IN-LAW -COURLAND-POLES-MEMEL-SEVERITY OF PRUSSIAN DRILL

IT is a great object in quitting a great city, where you have strong ties to detain you, resolutely to set off on the appointed day for the commencement of one's journey, be the hour what it may, and even if you can proceed no further than one post. After a delay of four hours, occasioned by the stupidity of the post-master, at eight o'clock in the evening of the nineteenth of September, N. S. the servants of our hospitable friends, Messrs. Vennings, who had been some time previously employed in filling every crack and corner of the carriages with bottles of port, claret, and all sorts of provisions, announced that every thing was ready. As we all assembled in the court yard, my old companion Mishka, to the full stretch of her chain, stood on her hinder legs, and seemed, in her rude way, for her voice was not the most musical, to regret my departure, but upon my giving her some sugar, I found it an

417

THE LITTLE SWEDE.

eiror of vanity, for she instantly ran into her house to enjoy it, and, as in the moment of repletion neither Bruins nor Englishmen, nor perhaps any other being, like to be disturbed, I did not say with the song

"Give me thy paw, my bonny bonny bear,"

but left her, to shake hands with those from whom we had received the most polite and kind attentions. My friend Captain Elphinstone insisted upon riding to the bridge with me, in the little Swede, as he called it, where we parted with mutual and genuine regret.

The moon shone very bright. The little Russ driver, who sat on the shaft, unfortunately for my ears and the temperature of my mind, proved to be a great singer: his shrill pipe never ceased till we reached Strelna, the first stage, where we proposed sleeping.

As soon as we drove up to the door of a handsome inn, which owed its architectural consequence to the proximity of the Grand Duke Constantine's country palace, the host told our servant, a German, he had no room for us; upon which a voice from the top of the banisters, with Stentorian energy, exclaimed in Russ, "By G-d there is room, the gentlemen "shall be accommodated, or by to-morrow evening the Grand SH

418

SINGULAR HOSPITALITY.

"Duke Constantine shall blow you all to the devil.” The translation of this extraordinary exclamation we received afterwards, upon which a Russ officer, a little flushed with the Tuscan grape, came down to us, and began, according to the custom of the Continent, to kiss us all round. When we had submitted to this detestable ceremony, he led, or rather drove us up stairs: lavishing upon the master of the inn all the opprobrious epithets he could collect, in bad French; ordered a handsome supper, and all sorts of wines; pressed us by the hands, swore the English were the finest fellows in the world, and again repeated his loving kindness by another salutation: when one of the party recoiling a little from the violence of his friendship, he turned round, shrugged up his shoulders, and in a most significant manner exclaimed, “My G-d, he does "not kiss like a man!" After making a hearty supper, we ordered our bill, but the officer swore he would murder our host if he presented any, and ordered him out of the room, declaring that we were his own guests, which he followed by screaming several Russ songs; after which we begged to know the name of this strange creature, and presented him with a piece of paper and a pencil; but after many ineffectual efforts, we plainly saw "that his education had stopped before he "had learnt to read or write." Fnding that we could get no beds, we ordered horses, travelled all night upon good roads, and arrived early the next morning to breakfast at Koskowa.

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