The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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manor-house, whence all set off together in eleven sledges, as many hunters as spectators. The steward took both his wife and daughter Anna with him on one of the small light sledges, as a large iron-bound one would have dragged too heavily through the freshly fallen snow and have been too wide for the narrow forest tracts through which they had to drive. The steward's double-barrelled gun was the only firearm of any consequence taken on the expedition, and was entrusted to the Inspector Wult-kiewicz, as he was an excellent shot. Our friend Vom-hammel had naturally not forgotten to take his cherished revolver, with what results remains to be seen.
As they entered the forest, Ivan, who sat by Wult-kiewicz on the foremost sledge, desired that all conversa­tion should cease, and soon no sound was heard through the line of sledges but the rattle of the shafts or the occasional neigh of a horse.
Here and there, on either side of the path, where the undergrowth had been slightly cleared, were seen at a little distance numerous shining sparks which might have been taken for glow-worms, excepting for the fact that they moved, or rather seemed to glide along the ground in the same direction as the sledges and at the same rate of speed.
' Are there glow-worms in winter ?' asked Wultkiewicz softly of his neighbour.
' No, they are wolves' eyes shining through the gloom,'
answered Ivan in a whisper, ' they will follow us to the
end of the wood, but there is nothing to fear; they just
run with us for their amusement and to see if anything
falls off the sledges. They are only dangerous during
severe and prolonged cold, for the wolf is cowardly, and
seldom attacks but in extreme need, and that never occurs
here, with all the roe-deer and wild pig there are in these
woods. The peasants and the horses are well accustomed
to the sight of the wolves by night, and by day they never
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