The Tale Of The Snow And The Steeple

: Stories To Read Or Tell From Fairy Tales And Folklore

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

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 the 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


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 laid 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 weather-cock of the steeple. Matters were now very plain to me; the

village had been covered with snow overnight: 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 be the cross or weather-cock of the


With long consideration, I took one of my pistols, shot the bridle in two,

brought down the horse, and proceeded on my journey. [Here the baron seems

to have forgotten his feelings: he should certainly have ordered his horse

a feed of corn after fasting so long.]