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tomed to the place, we perceived a large black patch on the dull grey plain-a broad, dark stain, as if a great stretch of the shore were covered with sea-weed. My friend pointed this out to the Bailie.

That dark place, that looks like a broad island, is one mass of birds as thick as ever they can sit.'

I fancied I saw the huge man tremble. He raised his elbow and brought up his gun.

What are you going to do?' I asked.

'Shoot!' he whispered. 'Ane might kill a dizzen out o' such a lot!'

Nonsense!' muttered Penley, angrily; you might as well try to kill them with a pea-shooter. Let us go back now, and try the lakes.'

We descended from the bank and struck inland in another direction. Our course was now over a tract of marsh which was intersected with deep gullies, many of which had runnels of water in their depths. We did follow a certain path and crossed one or two of the deeper gullies by means of planks that had been thrown across; but on the whole our method of travelling was a severe one, and the Bailie groaned in spirit. At last he came to a standstill on the brink of a gully which seemed to have a dangerous assortment of succulent water-plants along its course.

I winna stir a foot,' he said, firmly.


'I'll wait here till the birds begin to pass overhead; I'm no used to jumpin' ower bogs in the middle of the night like a will-o'-the-wisp.'

'The birds won't begin their flight for a couple of hours yet,' I said.

I dinna care. I'm no a guttapercha ball to stot, and stot, and stot from ditch to ditch, and look as if I liked it. I don't like it.'

'Hold your tongue and listen, Bailie,' said Penley.

He did as he was desired; and then we heard clearly and distinctly the different cries of the wild-fowlthe quacking of the mallard, the hoarser cry of the teal, and even an

occasional plaintive scream from a curlew.

'There's music for you! Can you resist the invitation? These birds are wheeling about the small lakes over there, or paddling about on the water.'

There's plenty of water here,' grumbled the Bailie.

'What's the use o' stoppin' 'ere, sir?' said Peter, respectfully, but firmly. The duck won't come near you, if you stand out on the marshes like this.'

Bailie Gemmill was at length goaded into following us; and in time we left the roughest part of the marsh behind us, and drew near the partially wooded hollow in which lay several patches of water which Penley dignified with the name of lakes. Peter now took the lead, having both dogs leashed, and guided us down a narrow valley which was well filled with bushes. Behind these bushes we crept along, scarcely daring to breathe, and feeling carefully for our footing before making each step. Then he halted, and we crept to the front. Peering over the thickest part of the bushes and through the bare twigs of the top, we saw before us a quiet little tarn which, on one side especially, where the thin moonlight fell upon it, was of a faint grey. Penley moved further along, and, in passing, whispered

Do not fire for a few minutes, until I get into a good position. Pick out a diver for your first shot.'

The Bailie and Peter remained with me, the latter having a spare gun with him. The Bailie shivered perceptibly, either through cold or the agonies of anticipation.

On the darker side of the tarn were a lot of rushes and sedge; and it seemed to me that I could vaguely distinguish certain black forms moving through this tall vegetation. The surface of the water was quite blank, until a diver suddenly popped up and began slowly paddling away. I fancied he was a golden-eye, and he offered an easy shot, had it been worth while to shoot him singly. By-and-by there was a loud quacking among the rushes, and presently we could dis

tinguish a number of black objects swimming out into the grey of the tarn. On they came, one after the other, apparently quite unconscious of the danger lurking near them, until the surface of the pond was thickly dotted with their dusky forms. I touched Peter on the arm, and pointed to the spare gun. He nodded in reply.

One or two divers now made their appearance, bobbing up and down continually. Watching my chance, I caught sight of one which had just risen, and at the same moment I uttered a short whistle. He turned instantaneously, his head slightly thrown up, and in the same second he received the contents of my right barrel. The sharp ring of the gun was the signal for such a noise and confusion as fairly astounded me. I had no idea that the sedges round this little tarn contained such a mass of birds as now rose into the air, screaming and whirring. The signal was repeated by a couple of shots from the post in which Penley was placed, followed by a couple of splashes in the water, and at the same time the Bailie let drive into 'the thick of them,' with his two barrels, while I discharged my remaining barrel, and managed also to pick off a couple of late and frightened stragglers with the spare gun which Peter handed to me.

'Where did your birds fall, sir?' asked Peter of the Bailie.

'How should I ken?' retorted the other, indignantly. 'I fired into the birds: how could mortal man tell where they drapped?'

Peter was soon down by the side of the water, and the two dogs swimming about in search of the dead birds. In a few minutes they had recovered two couple of mallard, a couple of teal, and a bird which we, in the semi-darkness, concluded to be a golden-eye. The latter must have been killed at once, as these birds when they are wounded dive, and very frequently never return to the surface.

'There's another bird somewhere, Peter,' said the Bailie. Ye have only seeven, and we fired eight shots. It's no possible that I could ha'

missed, for ye see I ha' a bit o' paper on the barrel, and I fired as straught as a line.'

There was something exceedingly ingenuous in the Bailie's supposing that we would of course accuse him of the missed shot; but Penley comforted him by saying that Peter should return at break of day to see if some wounded bird had concealed itself among the rushes.

And seven out o' eight is no bad, Mr. Penley,' he remarked, in reply, when ye conseeder that we are shootin' in the deed o' the nicht.'

'This isn't the dead of night, Bailie,' said Penley, as he reloaded. This is a fine clear morning.'

'May be,' said the Bailie,' may be. But I'd like to see ye read a chapter in Nehemiah the noo.'

We pushed on to the next tarn, which was in size about the same as that we had just left.

The birds will be very wary,' said Penley, for they must have heard the sound of our guns. Indeed, we may find none at all


We advanced very circumspectly; and, as we neared the tarn, we were skirting the edge of a ditch in which there was a little runnel of water. Here a most unlucky accident occurred. By some means or other Bailie Gemmill had got on a little in front, and was picking his steps carefully by the side of the gully, when a loud and sudden noise caused him fairly to spring back. About half a dozen wild-duck had been down in the ditch, and had risen almost from under his feet with that clatter and whirr and crying which mark the fright of the mallard. The Bailie received such a shock that in springing back he stumbled, or slipped, and the next moment he had tumbled down into the ditch, while a terrific report announced to us that both barrels of his gun had gone off. Penley did not even look after his friend. He saw in a moment that the cries of these mallard would ruin our only chance of getting a shot on the adjoining tarn; and so, with admirable presence of mind, he put

up his gun and brought down the last couple of the ducks which had caused the mishap. All this had occurred so simultaneously that it was only as an afterthought that he remembered the explosion of the Bailie's gun, which had taken place with his own; and then, as he turned to the watery hole in which our friend had sunk, Peter said, as he scrambled down the bank

'Lor, sir, I fear he's hurt hisself. But a deal o' the shot just passed my ear.'

The Bailie was clearly not dead. There was a splashing and heaving among the reeds, as though a hippopotamus were washing himself in the place; and there was a hoarse sound-a stream of ejaculations and expletives in broad, resonant Scotch.

'You're not hurt, sir?' said Peter. 'Hoo do ye ken?' growled the maddened Bailie; lend me a hand, I tell ye; and if ever ye catch me come shootin' in such a - place as this-ye-why don't ye come nearer ?'

A large and dark form now made its appearance on the bank.

'Where's the gun, sir?' asked Peter.

the gun! Let it rot there! If I get safe out, the gun may stay in.'

'I beg your pardon, Bailie; but the gun is mine,' said Penley.


And so is the ditch, I suppose,' said the Bailie, struggling into the moonlight. 'I tell ye, Maister Penley, if ye left a place like that in Scotland withoot puttin' a paling round it, the law would hang ye. And it's a perfect meeracle ye havena my life to answer for, for I declare I felt the wind o' the shot on my face,'

'But why did you tumble in?' said Penley, who could not repress a smile on meeting the melancholy figure now presented by the halfdrowned Bailie.

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for the pleasure o' shootin' at birds in the daurk?'

'Come, come, Bailie,' said Penley. 'You must do something to keep your circulation going, and you may as well load again and go with us. You would never find your way home from here.'

'Deed, I'll no try,' said the Bailie, earnestly.

There was nothing for it, therefore, but that he should accompany us; and so, having ascertained that his powder-flask, wads, &c., were dry, we again started.

Of course, there was not a bird on or around this second tarn when we approached it. The report of the Bailie's gun had been followed by a succession of quacks and screams which told that, had we reached the water in silence, we should have had some sport. The couple of mallard shot by Penley were the only spoil which fell to us from this second effort.

The third and last piece of water was larger than its predecessors, and might even, with some stretch of courtesy, have been called a small lake. Its shores were very level, and we experienced great difficulty in approaching it with safety. At some distance the cries of the wildfowl could be distinguished, and were so numerous as to convince us that here, at least, the birds had not been scared off.

Then the Bailie stopped.

'I'm sayin',' he remarked, 'I think I'll no gang forrit to the water. I'm too cauld to be able to shoot. I'll sit down here and take a drop o' whisky and a sandwich I have in my pocket, and ye can come back here when ye have done. Losh me, what's that?'

'A hare, sir,' said Peter, as some dark object darted past, and scuttled away among the long grass.

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As you please, Bailie,' said Penley. And, if you are not going to shoot, you may give me your gun.'

'Wi' pleasure,' said the Bailie, with a sigh of relief.

We now proceeded to seek the shore of the lake at a spot where there was a small creek, in which lay a broad, flat-bottomed punt. The punt was moored beside some

bushes, and it was to these bushes we looked for means to get down unperceived to the water. When we had finally crept down to the margin, and could look abroad over the still surface of the water, it was soon apparent that the wild-fowl were present in considerable numbers. They seemed to be more on the outlook, however, than they were on the first tarn; and several times we feared lest some wheeling duck might spy out our hidingplace and give the alarm to his companions.

No such awkward accident occurred, however; and for several minutes we stood, admiring the slow circles made on the surface of the water by the dark forms of the birds. The moonlight was now a little stronger, and the water was of a decided bluish-grey tinge, on which the wild-fowl seemed quite black. Now and then a stray wanderer came sailing down and alit on the water with a loud swish,' which caused all his companions to jerk their heads about. There was one especially erratic fellow, who went on long circular excursions all by himself; and on one of these we saw that he was evidently coming straight toward us. Afraid of being taken unawares, we simultaneously rose up, exposing the upper half of our bodies above the bushes. In an instant the whole place was a scene of wild clamour, excited quacking and croaking, and rapid wheeling up into the air. Bang! bang! went Penley's first gun, simultaneously with my own; and then again the barrels of the remaining guns echoed through the silence of the place.

Peter jumped into the punt, with his dogs.

'Come quick, sir-we'll push across, and find one or two hiding

in the rushes.'

We got into the punt, and loaded as quickly as possible, allowing Peter to paddle us silently across. On the way we passed more than one dead bird, towards which the dogs would fain have leapt, had we not restrained them.

Scarcely had the broad prow of the shallow punt rustled in upon

the sedges than a couple of mallard fluttered up and flew off right and left. One fell to each of us, Penley's bird dropping well up on shore. This was a good beginning; but we found that the sedgy margin did not contain the number of birds we had begun to anticipate. Another wild-duck did get up; but it rose far out of shot, and we were about to return when I heard a flapping and splashing in among the reeds.

'It is a wounded bird,' said Peter, unleashing one of the dogs. Go in, Walnut-go in, good dog, and seek him out.'

Walnut sprang boldly into the water, made for the rushes, and after a little plunging about returned with the bird in her mouth. It was a duck which had only been winged, the coup de grace being reserved for Peter's experienced fingers.

This being the finish of our lakeshooting, and there being still some time to elapse before the morning flight-shooting would commence, we began a brisk hunt after the killed. The Bailie, being whistled for, came down to the punt and took a seat, though he was greatly incommoded--as were we-by the wet dogs. He maintained, however, that he now felt very comfortable, that he no longer experienced any cold, and that he was willing to do anything or go anywhere so long as the sport could be continued.

'I think it is an astonishin' fine sensation to be out here, a' by yoursel', in the deed o' nicht, and they great birds fleein' about your head. I dinna wonder, Maister Penley, that ye are glad to live in this oot-o'-the-world place, when yo have such sport aye before ye; and my wonder is that ye are na out every night in your life.'

'If we kept continually popping at them, they'd soon leave us,' said Penley, as he took a mallard out of Walnut's mouth.

The Bailie grew enormously loquacions. He became quite poetical in describing the enchanting pleasures of wild-fowl shooting, and said he should remember this night so long as he lived.

"By the way, Maister Penley,' he remarked, in a sort of bashful way, have ye anything left in your flask?'

I thought you had filled your flask before we started,' said Penley; 'and it is twice as big as mine.'

And so I did,' said the Bailie, with a little hesitation; but I was extraordinar' thirsty after that cauld bath, and I couldna exactly get at the water, so I-so I had to empty the flask. But never mind. I feel very comfortable, and doubtless ye'll need a' you have got before the night's over.'

'Very likely,' said Penley, "for we have now got to tramp over to the river side, where I hope we shall get a little shooting.'

The Bailie rose from his seat with a half-stifled sigh, and, as the boat touched the corner of the creek, he stepped ashore. The birds we had shot, already too heavy for one man to carry, were locked up in the spacious locker of the punt; and then we set out on our journey towards the river. This small stream, in flowing towards the sea, passed Marshlands House, and was not only a valuable resort for grebe, moor-hens, and similar birds, but also offered excellent shelter in which to await the passing and repassing, at early morning and dusk, of the flocks of wild-fowl which haunted the locality. The Bailie looked forward to this bit of flightshooting with an animation which was not altogether the result of the whisky he had drank. The mere consciousness that we were going in the direction of home, that daylight would soon break, and that along the banks of the river there were no treacherous pitfalls, cheered him; and he even volunteered to sing, in a hoarse, cawing way, some guttural Scotch drinking-song, which was, perhaps fortunately, quite unintelligible.

Along the side of the stream whither we were now bound there lay a strip of marshy ground chiefly covered with young willows. The underwood was considerably thick, especially at the point to which Peter led us; and we had little difficulty in choosing successive spots,

some fifty yards separate, where we could easily lie concealed, while leaving a tolerably large open space around us. Peter's chief care was to hide away the elephantine bulk of the Bailie; and, when that had been done, he was cautioned to remain perfectly still and invisible.

A dead silence hung over the place for several minutes, broken only by the rippling of the dark water round the sudden curves of its course, and the creaking of willow stumps in the wind. A fresh breeze was blowing, and we knew the birds, if they passed our way at all, would fly low and offer an easy shot. In the midst of this stillness, I heard the even, heavy tramp of the Bailie's footsteps approaching.

"Tell me,' he said, in a loud whisper, as he came up, am I to shoot at the birds as they flee towards me, or as they're fleeing past?'

'You'd better let them get past,' I said; but how do you expect they'll come here if you stand out in the open, and talk?"

'Mercy me! hoo could a bird see ye on a night like this? It has got quite dark-and-preserve us!'

He was struck into silence by a great whirring of wings overhead that sounded as if the prince of the power of the air were himself rushing past. The ring of my two barrels, followed by the double report of Penley's gun, did not lessen his astonishment.

'What did ye fire at? What was that? What a fricht I got!'

'Why, a fine string of wild duck,' said I; though how they came so near while you were standing there I don't know. I wish you'd go and hide yourself again, Bailie.'

'Do ye mean to tell me ye shot anything?

"Of course I did.'

'And Maister Penley?'

'Yes. Didn't you hear the birds fall?'

'That's maist extraordinar',' muttered the Bailie, as he returned to his post.

For some time thereafter the plashing of the water resumed its hold on the ear; not even the distant cry of a bird could be detected.

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