The Worlds Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906. Vol. XII: German
A Horse Tied to a Steeple
By Erich Raspe (17361794)
From Adventures of Baron Münchausen
I SET off from Rome on a journey to Russia, in the midst of winter, from a just notion that frost and snow must of course improve the roads, which every traveler had described as uncommonly bad through the northern parts of Germany, Poland, Courland, and Livonia. I went on horseback, as the most convenient manner of traveling. I was but lightly clothed, and of this I felt the inconvenience the more I advanced northeast. What must not a poor old man have suffered in that severe weather and climate, whom I saw on a bleak common in Poland, lying on the road, helpless, shivering, and hardly having wherewithal to cover his nakedness? I pitied the poor soul. Though I felt the severity of the atmosphere myself, I threw my mantle over him, and immediately I heard a voice from the heavens, blessing me for that piece of charity, saying:
Tired out, I alighted, and fastened my horse to something like the pointed stump of a tree which appeared above the snow. For the sake of safety I placed my pistols under my arm, and laid down on the snow, where I slept so soundly that I did not open my eyes till full daylight. It is not easy to conceive my astonishment at finding myself in the midst of a village, lying in a churchyard. Nor was my horse to be seen; but I heard him soon after neigh somewhere above me. On looking upward, I beheld him hanging by his bridle to the weathercock of the steeple. Matters were now quite plain to me. The village had been covered with snow overnight; a sudden change in the weather had taken place; I had sunk down to the churchyard while asleep at the same rate as the snow had melted away; and what in the dark I had taken to be a stump of a little tree appearing above the snow, to which I had tied my horse, proved to have been the cross or weathercock of the steeple!