THE BARON'S WONDERFUL DOG
By R. E. Raspe
I had married a lady of great beauty, who, having heard of my sporting exploits, desired, a short time after our marriage, to go out with me on a shooting expedition. I went on in front to start something, and I soon saw my dog stop before several hundred coveys of partridges. I waited for my wife, who was following me with my lieutenant and a servant. I waited a long time; nobody came.
At length, very uneasy, I went back, and, when I was half-way to the place where I had left my wife, I heard lamentable groans.
They seemed quite near, and yet I could see no trace of a human being. I jumped off my horse; I put my ear to the ground, and not only heard the groans distinctly rising from beneath, but my wife's voice and those of my lieutenant and servant.
I remarked at the same time, not far from the spot, the shaft of a coal-pit, and I had no doubt that my wife and her unfortunate companions had been swallowed up in it. I rode full speed to the nearest village to fetch the miners, who after great efforts succeeded in drawing the unfortunate individuals buried in the pit--which measured ninety feet--to the surface.
They first drew up the man-servant; then his horse; next the lieutenant; next his horse; and at length my wife on her little palfrey. The most curious part of this affair was that, in spite of the awful depth to which they had fallen, no one was hurt, not even the horses, if we except a few slight contusions. But they had had a terrible fright, and were quite unable to pursue our intended sport.
In all this confusion I quite forgot my setter, as no doubt you also have.
The next day I was obliged to go away on duty, and did not return home for a fortnight. On my return I asked for Diana, my setter.
No one knew anything about her. My servants thought she had followed me. She was certainly lost, and I never hoped to see her again! At length a bright idea occurred to me:
"She is perhaps still watching the partridges."
I hastened, full of hope and joy, to the spot, and actually there she was!--my noble Diana--on the very place where I had left her a fortnight before.
"Hi, Diana!" I cried. "Seize them!"
She instantly sprang the partridges; they rose, and I killed twenty-five at one shot. But the poor beast had scarcely strength enough to follow me, she was so thin and famished. I was obliged to carry her back to the house on my horse, where rest, feeding, and great care soon restored her to health.
I was thoroughly glad to get her back again.