322 A BOAR HUNT BY MOONLIGHT
hollow-chested, had long spindle shanks and a crooked back, great red hands, and huge feet; he stammered in his speech, and his behaviour towards ladies was like that of a young sporting dog who is being fondled.
' But Herr Vomhammel,' objected the steward, ' you could easily shoot one of them, but you would find it rather dangerous to come to such close quarters.'
' Ah, ha,' laughed Friiulein Anna, the steward's pretty eighteen-year-old daughter, whose chief delight it was to tease poor Vomhammel, ' Herr Vomhammel would take to his heels as soon as ever he heard a pig grunt.'
' Upon m-m-my honour, F-f-fraulein,' he stammered in self-defence, ' I would let f-f-fire with my good revolver, straight on a wild b-b-boar if only it stood still.'
Everyone laughed, but the book-keeper did not seem the least aware of it, and looked round triumphantly.
' An idea occurs to me, however,' said the steward; ' by ten o'clock to-night the moon will be up, so let us invite all the peasants, and especially Ivan Meschkoff, the choir leader, who is experienced in boar hunts, to join us in a raid against them to-night. As you all know, the peasants are not allowed to have firearms, but make use, after the old Ruthenian fashion, of their pikes and pitchforks, once their dogs have brought the creatures to bay. If we were to drive in light sledges through the forest near to the pea-stacks, we might surprise the pigs, and by cutting off their retreat, the dogs that we should take in the sledges with us could not fail to seize some of the herd.'
This proposition met with general assent, the ladies even wishing to join in this sledge expedition, which seemed likely to be free from all danger. The peasants were soon ready, and by nine o'clock assembled, to the number of thirty, under the leadership of the gigantic bearded Ivan Meschkoff, each accompanied by one, or perhaps two, middle-sized but powerful cross-bred dogs, held in the leash. From the village they went to the