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Catharine's Peril, or The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest And Other Stories   By:

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[Illustration]

CATHARINE'S PERIL;

OR,

The Little Russian Girl Lost in a Forest.

A TALE FOUNDED ON FACT.

BY MRS. M. E. BEWSHER,

Author of 'The Little Ballet Girl,' 'The Gipsy's Secret,' etc. etc.

AND OTHER STORIES.

Seventh Thousand.

EDINBURGH: OLIPHANT, ANDERSON, & FERRIER (LATE WILLIAM OLIPHANT & CO.). 1881.

MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH , PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.

[Illustration]

CONTENTS.

PAGE

CATHARINE'S PERIL; OR, THE LITTLE RUSSIAN GIRL LOST IN A FOREST 5

THE SHABBY SURTOUT 27

JANE HILL 45

[Illustration]

CATHARINE'S PERIL;

OR,

THE LITTLE RUSSIAN GIRL LOST IN A FOREST.

CHAPTER I.

In the year 1812, Napoleon Buonaparte, after conquering nearly the whole of Europe, invaded Russia, and led his victorious army to Moscow, the ancient capital of that country. Soon this city, with its winding streets, its hills, its splendid churches, its fine houses and cottages so mixed together, its corn fields, woods, and gardens, as well as the Kremlin, consisting of several churches, palaces, and halls collected on the top of a hill and surrounded by walls, fell into the power of the French.

Rostopchin, the Governor, impelled by bigoted patriotism, resolved to set fire to the city confided to him by his imperial master Alexander, the Czar of all the Russias.

It was truly a heart rending sight to witness the misfortunes of the inhabitants, forced to quit their homes to escape a horrible death.

The provisions stored in the granaries and other places were consumed in the flames.

The conflagration lasted about ten days, until almost the whole of Moscow was laid in ashes. The main body of the Russian army had retired towards Tula, and taken up a strong position on the road leading towards that town, in order to prevent the French from advancing into the interior of the country. Thus they were hemming them in on all sides, only leaving them the choice of being starved or burned, or returning by the way they had come, and wintering in Poland. This latter expedient might have saved the army had it been adopted in time.

The terrible Cossacks, first rate riders, with lances ten feet long, and a musket slung over their right shoulder, were swarming around everywhere, and annoying the French outposts, cutting off the foraging parties, and hindering them in their attempt to penetrate into the south of Russia, where they would have found plenty of provisions for the winter.

Winter was fast coming on a Russian winter, in all its bitter severity. The snow began to fall, the rivers to freeze, and crows and other birds died by hundreds.

God had sent His frost, and of the 400,000 enemies who had entered Russia, but very few lived to behold again their native land.

Amid the confusion and panic that prevailed in the burning city, Catharine Somoff, the little daughter of a Russian merchant, had been separated from her relations and friends, and to her dismay found herself alone in the crowd.

The weather was intensely cold. Forsaken and half frozen, the child wandered up and down, not knowing where to find shelter. Both her parents had mysteriously disappeared, and it seemed as if no one would claim her. So passed the long hours of the night; and at the dawn of day, Catharine, worn out by fatigue, cold, and hunger, fell down in front of a church which the flames had not yet reached, hoping to go to sleep.

Sleep soon comes to childhood; and, without doubt, this poor child, exposed to such a temperature, would never have unclosed her eyes any more in this world, had not a sutler's wife providentially come to fix up her little provision market near this church, and, noticing the lonely one, felt womanly compassion for the desolate, unprotected Catharine... Continue reading book >>




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