( Originally Published 1851 )
Wolves--The following narration may have before met the eyes of many of our readers : it is certainly of a nature not to be easily forgotten. We may premise that in Russia, during a severe winter, the wolves are often induced by hunger to prowl around the city of St. Petersburg in search of food. Travellers from St. Petersburg to Cronstadt, a distance of about twenty miles, have often been attacked by these animals. The circumstance related below was told to Mr. Lloyd by a gentleman of rank at St. Petersburg; it occurred in Russia not many years ago :—A woman, accompanied by three of her children, were one day in a sledge, when they were pursued by a number of wolves. On this, she put the horse into a gallop, and drove towards her home, from which she was not far distant, with all possible speed. All, however, would not avail, for the ferocious animals gained upon her, and at last were on the point of rushing on the sledge. For the preservation of her own life and that of the remaining children, the poor frantic creature now took one of her babes and cast it a prey to her blood-thirsty pursuers. This stopped their career for a moment; but, after devouring the little innocent, they renewed the pursuit, and a second time came up with the vehicle. The mother, driven to desperation, resorted to the same horrible expedient, and threw her ferocious assailants another of her offspring. To cut short this melancholy story, her third child was sacrificed in a similar manner Soon after this, the wretched being, whose feelings may more easily be conceived than described, reached her home in safety. Here she related what had happened, and endeavored to palliate her own conduct, by describing the dreadful alternative to which she had been reduced. A peasant, however, who was among the bystanders, and heard the recital, took up an axe, and with one blow cleft her skull in two ; saying, at the same time, that a mother who could thus sacrifice her children for the preservation of her own life, was no longer fit to live. This man was committed to prison, but the Emperor subsequently gave him a pardon.