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roleplaying:munchausen:chapter_v [2005/11/22 18:01] (current)
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 +====== TRAVELS OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN ======
 +===== CHAPTER V =====
  
 +//The effects of great activity and presence of mind--A favourite
 +  hound described, which pups while pursuing a hare; the hare also
 +  litters while pursued by the hound--Presented with a famous horse
 +  by Count Przobossky, with which he performs many extraordinary
 +  feats.//
 +
 +All these narrow and lucky escapes, gentlemen, were chances turned to
 +advantage by presence of mind and vigorous exertions, which, taken
 +together, as everybody knows, make the fortunate sportsman, sailor,
 +and soldier; but he would be a very blamable and imprudent sportsman,
 +admiral, or general, who would always depend upon chance and his
 +stars, without troubling himself about those arts which are their
 +particular pursuits, and without providing the very best implements,
 +which insure success. I was not blamable either way; for I have always
 +been as remarkable for the excellency of my horses, dogs, guns, and
 +swords, as for the proper manner of using and managing them, so that
 +upon the whole I may hope to be remembered in the forest, upon the
 +turf, and in the field. I shall not enter here into any detail of my
 +stables, kennel, or armoury; but a favourite bitch of mine I cannot
 +help mentioning to you; she was a greyhound, and I never had or saw a
 +better. She grew old in my service, and was not remarkable for her
 +size, but rather for her uncommon swiftness. I always coursed with
 +her. Had you seen her you must have admired her, and would not have
 +wondered at my predilection,​ and at my coursing her so much. She ran
 +so fast, so much, and so long in my service, that she actually ran off
 +her legs; so that, in the latter part of her life, I was under the
 +necessity of working and using her only as a terrier, in which quality
 +she still served me many years.
 +
 +Coursing one day a hare, which appeared to me uncommonly big, I pitied
 +my poor bitch, being big with pups, yet she would course as fast as
 +ever. I could follow her on horseback only at a great distance. At
 +once I heard a cry as it were of a pack of hounds--but so weak and
 +faint that I hardly knew what to make of it. Coming up to them, I was
 +greatly surprised. The hare had littered in running; the same had
 +happened to my bitch in coursing, and there were just as many leverets
 +as pups. By instinct the former ran, the latter coursed: and thus I
 +found myself in possession at once of six hares, and as many dogs, at
 +the end of a course which had only begun with one.
 +
 +I remember this, my wonderful bitch, with the same pleasure and
 +tenderness as 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 noble 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 down-
 +stairs, and found the horse so unruly, that nobody durst approach or
 +mount him. The most resolute horsemen 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, walked 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 noble lord, that, with his usual politeness, he begged I
 +would accept of this young horse, and ride him full career to conquest
 +and honour in the campaign against the Turks, which was soon to be
 +opened, under the command of Count Munich.
 +
 +I could not indeed have received a more agreeable present, nor a more
 +ominous one at the opening of that campaign, in which I made my
 +apprenticeship as a soldier. A horse so gentle, so spirited, and so
 +fierce--at once a lamb and a Bucephalus, put me always in mind of the
 +soldier'​s and the gentleman'​s duty! of young Alexander, and of the
 +astonishing things he performed in the field.
 +
 +We took the field, among several other reasons, it seems, with an
 +intention to retrieve the character of the Russian arms, which had
 +been blemished a little by Czar Peter'​s last campaign on the Pruth;
 +and this we fully accomplished by several very fatiguing and glorious
 +campaigns under the command of that great general I mentioned before.
 +
 +Modesty forbids individuals to arrogate to themselves great successes
 +or victories, the glory of which is generally engrossed by the
 +commander--nay,​ which is rather awkward, by kings and queens who never
 +smelt gunpowder but at the field-days and reviews of their troops;
 +never saw a field of battle, or an enemy in battle array.
 +
 +Nor do I claim any particular share of glory in the great engagements
 +with the enemy. We all did our duty, which, in the patriot'​s,​
 +soldier'​s,​ and gentleman'​s language, is a very comprehensive word, of
 +great honour, meaning, and import, and of which the generality of idle
 +quidnuncs and coffee-house politicians can hardly form any but a very
 +mean and contemptible idea. However, having had the command of a body
 +of hussars, I went upon several expeditions,​ with discretionary
 +powers; and the success I then met with is, I think, fairly and only
 +to be placed to my account, and to that of the brave fellows whom I
 +led on to conquest and to victory. 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 scrape: I had an advanced
 +fore-post, 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 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.
 +
 +----
 +Go to [[CHAPTER VI]]
roleplaying/munchausen/chapter_v.txt · Last modified: 2005/11/22 18:01 (external edit)