324 A BOAR HUNT BY MOONLIGHT
At a distance of about one thousand feet, the pea-stacks stood out distinctly against the wintry sky, and all eyes were immediately turned in that direction. In his capacity of leader of the hunt, Ivan gave the order to drive slowly towards the stacks in a large half circle with a gap between each sledge, and to let loose the dogs as soon as the boars should begin to run.
When they had come to within three hundred feet of the stacks, they distinctly saw a large herd of black pigs busily engaged in their work of destruction. As soon as the creatures became aware of the approaching enemy they drew closer together. At a signal from Ivan the greater part of the dogs were let loose, and they rushed barking loudly on the common foe. The whole herd gathered close together in a tangled mass, and took flight across the fields in the opposite direction. Six sledges, manned by pike-armed peasants, pursued them quickly, wyhile the remaining five sledges with the rest of the dogs, drove slowly after them so as to be able to cut off the retreat of the pigs into the forest.
When these last sledges had come to within a hundred and twenty feet of the stacks, the occupants saw a huge dark mass moving among the rooted up straw7.
' That must be an old boar, what they call a " hermit," said Ivan, ' a dangerous creature that fears neither dogs nor men.'
And, as if to prove the truth of his words, the monster then slowly turned his broadside to the sledge, without interrupting his eating and crunching.
' If only I had my good rifle here !' exclaimed Wult-kiewicz excitedly, ' but with shot one cannot pierce a hide like that.'
Vomhammel, who sat on the same sledge beside the driver, no sooner heard these words than he sprang up, threw his long legs over the splash board, jumped out, and revolver in hand, advanced on the boar with huge strides.