Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

November 26, 1893. Omaha Sunday Bee p. 10. Continues: December 3, 1893, p. 19; December 17, 1893, p. 18.

In the Lugenbeel Marshes

Sunrise and Sunset on the Lovely Waters of the Raccoon.

An October Goose and Duck Shoot

Camped in a Pocket of the Hills—Our Blind in the Rushes—A Battle With the Birds—The Day's Work and Repose.

An October morning in the Lugenbeel marshes.

The long line of serrated bluffs, in the increasing light, looked like some old rampart of the dark ages, frowning down upon the shadowy waters of Raccoon lake.

It was our first morning out—Stocky Heth, Billy Simeral and myself—and the scene being one of exceptional beauty, especially in a duck hunter's eyes, we stood awhile in rapt enchantment.

The mists lifted rapidly from the surface of the lake, and soon the sun came up over the rim of the eastern prairie, sprinkling willow, reed and rice as with golden rain, and setting the twittering blackbirds in delighted motion. The honk of the wild goose resounded from the distant marsh, then a cloud of birds arose and in a harrow-shaped flock went off over the hills to their feeding grounds to the south. The scene with each passing moment became more and more picturesque and we lingered and drunk it in with inexpressible rapture. On the far shore of the little inland sea there was a grand sweep of barren sandhills, now laved in alternate lines of crimson and topaz, swelling from the very edge of the shimmering waters. Across the heavens floated great masses of fleecy vapor, fiery-edged, dropping their lights and shades on the bosom of the lake like the play of color on velvet. Now the rounded tops of the towering bluffs glowed as in the glare of a prairie conflagration, and then an immense shadow would arise from the waters, like the Afrite from his crystal vase, and clamber off over the walls of the hills, the startled sunshine shrinking before like a thing pursued. A playful breeze comes rustling through the tall, tawny grass from the south and, brushing by us, pounces upon the lake, streaking the surface into darkening ripples, fanning the reeds with its delicate wings and melting away in the bordering rice fields.

Such was the pleasure that greeted our vision on October 9 last. We were out for a ten days duck shoot and had just reached a spot agreed upon for a camp ground. It was in a snug little pocket in the foothills, but a few steps from the ferzy banks of Hay creek, which came winding down the open valley like a huge serpent twisting its way through the yellowing herbage until it tumbled tumultuously into the lake.

Filled with the enthusiasm of our glorious surroundings we were soon dumping our camp luggage from Newberry's big wagon upon the dried sward all about us. It was no child's play to get things in proper shape for such a prolonged stay, and work and tug and sweat and fume and swear as hard as we did, it was late in the afternoon before the tents were up, beds made, wood chopped and the spot began to assume the air of a hunter's home. We named it Camp Merganzer.

The big tent faced the south and with flaps tied back displayed a pile of new mown hay, with blankets of green and gray and scarlet striped drawn over it. On the rear tent-pole hung hunting coats and waders, gun cases and other paraphernalia, while in the corner leaning against a rudely improvised bench were our guns and fishing rods. From the front pole, looped with a piece of twine, was a brace of grouse, their mottled hues warm in the sunglow, and which Simeral killed before it was hardly light enough to see on our way over from Newberry's.

"Old Spot," Stocky's blue belton setter, and as true a friend as ever snuffed the scent of chicken or quail, noses about, occasionally bending on his haunches to take a dig at some peregrinating flea or lick his paws, crouching to stare keen-eyed from between his paws at our every move, or curling himself up for slumber, only to start up almost instantly to smell at our heels again. Loyal brute, he knew what was up as well as we, and was taking every precaution to see that no one left the camp without him.

John had brought us a load of wood, and the rougher work about the place having been all duly attended to, a fire was quickly sputtering in the sheetiron stove and our first meal in process of preparation, which function unhappily had fallen to me.

It requires lots of time to put up two tents, chop wood enough to last a week, make cupboard and table and arrange commissaries, plates, pans, kettles, cups and saucers, knives and forks and a hundred and one other things, and it wasn't long ere I was forced to call both Simeral and Heth to my assistance.

Stocky, with gray shirt rolled up to his elbows and corduroys to the knees, in his stocking feet, peels the potatoes, while Billiam, in tan colored hunting wammus, dead grass breeches and rubber boots, strips the grouse, and I mix the cornmeal, slice the onions and make the coffee. In a twinkling the scene was alive with our culinary preparations, and the gridiron, saucepan and coffee pot made music that shamed bird and ripple.

An hour later and the top of the mess chest steamed with our first dinner, and with appetites as big as McKinley's majority in Ohio, we draw up our shell boxes for chairs and fall to.

The Evening Flight.

The whole outlook is soft and rich, as well as wild and rugged, steeped as it is in the mellow charm of the October sunset. The sun soon disappears, and in the transparency of the first twilight every object, from the scraggy outline of the distant bluffs, way cross the marsh to the west, to the minute tracery of the water grasses in the limpid creek near by, were penciled as clear and sharp as at noontide. The white buffalo blossoms look like tiny lines of silver resting among their broad, heart-shaped leaves, while the clouds above burn in vivid hues, the prairie is golden brown, and Raccoon's waters like a mine of varied jewels in liquid form.

Wrapped in the marvelous beauty of such a scene, could sportsman ask for more? And talk about your banquets in palaces, what are they compared with a feast in a duck hunter's camp, with the peerless picture around and the radiant roof above? How the corn bread, toothsome grouse stew, potatoes, with onions, fried to a turn, and Old Government Java did disappear, and without meaning to tell tales out of school, I must say that Simeral's stomach on this occasion gave me a better idea of the bottomless pit than anything yet, human or divine, I have run across in my travels. But then any one will tell you that a hungry duck hunter is the most voracious thing extant.

After our meal the dishes were washed and refuse cleared away and we betook ourselves to cigars and comfort. Stockey lolled against the upright of the tent; the lawyer bespraddled himself across the mess chest, while I lay on the flat of my back with my little feet braced against a big box of Walsrode shells.

Our conversation was light and flippant. The fading light of day lay soft and dreamy over the seer prairie and through the open tent we could see, stretching before us, the glittering crest of the silent lake.

"I believe I'll step out and see whether there are any birds flying," observed the lawyer as he slid off the mess chest and strode out into the open air. The next instant we heard him calling: "Say, if you fellows want to see a sight for sore eyes, come out here, the sky is full of birds."

We were with him in a jiffy and true enough there was a big flight of birds. Flock after flock came in over the sandhills from off toward Reshaw's, and settled down here, and there and everywhere among the rice and in the open water, where fancy __ them. There were many mallards among the incoming birds, with a good many widgeon, redhead and canvasback, and frequent wisps of teal.

"There is going to be elegant sport in the morning, boys," remarked Stocky, "and what we want to do is to decide on a plan yet this evening, then get a good night's rest and be off by 5 in the morning."

To this Simeral and I gave ready ascent, and as we stood and watched the clouds of water fowl, which seemed to increase rather than diminish with the deepening shades of evening, we agreed upon the morrow's program. It having been decided by lot that Simeral was to superintend the cooking the next day we concluded that it was best for Heth and I to take the boat in the morning, while the lawyer skirmished as best he could along the shore.

The gray twilight was now yielding to the darkness of night. The distant sandhills grew gloomy and mysterious, then disappeared; the water blended with the shadows and myriads of stars came forth. We were quickly in bed. Nothing disturbed the quiet of the autumn night save an occasional moaning howl or snappish yelp from some skulking coyote, and we slept like tops.

Our Blind in the Rushes.

The morning broke fresh and radiant from her dewy bath, and after a hurried breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee, we were off with the first gray of dawn. Sim, with Spot at his heels, started down the narrow cane-covered peninsula that poked its tangly nose far out into the lake from the south, while Stocky and I hurried to the spot where our pine scow had been moored the day before. It was laborious work indeed, rowing and pushing even this light craft across the lake to a headland of reeds and rice we had selected for a blind from the shore. The water in the lake was very low, lower, in fact than it had been for years, and floating an inch below the surface was an almost impenetrable matting of aquatic moss. We reached the spot at last, however, only to find still more and harder work awaiting us. There was scarcely enough water here to float a feather, but the mud was knee deep, and we had to pull up our waders and get out into it before we could force the boat securely into the rushes.

By the time we got her well anchored, the decoys out and the tops of the rice bent over to facilitate shooting, the rose tints of dawn had faded, the distant hills had warmed into bronze and the reeds and rice into gold. The sun was fast kindling the thickest cane and willows into yellow life; here sprinkling the dark green moss with color, there striking a shimmering aisle out into the lake, until at last all was one broad illumination.

"Bang! bang!" came the report of the lawyer's Lefever, and as the thin smoke curled up from a likely spot in the cane well down the peninsula, we heard a mighty flapping and scurrying on the water, a thousand startled quacks, and as if by the wand of prestidigitateur the air was instantly filled with ducks. They arose in great black masses from a half hundred different points, sailing up into the air singly and in great flocks, then circling round and round as if endeavoring to locate the source of danger or taking their bearings for a departure from the country.

"Mark! right in front!" excitedly whispered Stocky as a bunch of mallards came cleaving the air straight for our blind from the south, "you take the right and I'll take the left."

The next instant his gun cracked and a splendid big greenhead, in the full blazonry of his autumn plumage, let go and whirling in the air, tumbled dead amidst his wooden prototypes in the shallow waters before us. As the rest of the flock lifted themselves aloft and turned to leave they received a dual salute from me and Heth's remaining barrel. Three more birds fell, two as dead as the proverbial mackerel, but the third, an old hen, came down slantingly with but a broken wing. She squawked affrightly and began to dig out for the nearest point of reedy selvedge, almost burying herself in the water as she scurried along. It was but a second's work to slip in another shell and in another moment her ashen-belly was turned skyward and her orange legs were kicking spasmodically into empty space.

"Bully!" shouted the waterworks man, "we've got four of 'em-four big fat mallards!"

"Mark!" my warning exclamation caused him to squat with such precipitation as to nearly turn him over the gunwales, and before he could recover himself and get into shape to shoot a bunch of greenwings skimmed over the decoys, fairly under his nose, so close were they to his end of the boat. We both pumped up hurriedly but the four loads we sent after them failed to stop a feather. The single moment lost sufficed to carry them out of harm's way.

"That wasn't quite so bully," I remarked with some acerbity," and if you want to kill ducks you will have to keep down. Can't you see good enough without standing on the gunwales!"

"Put a cork in that mug of yours!" testily rejoined Stocky. "I think I know my business. Look out yourself! there comes a lot of birds now, right up the channel to your left."

Sure enough there they came, a small bunch of widgeon, with their black and grayish speckled breasts glistening like silver sheens against the sun as they came swiftly on over the water from off somewhere in their marshy grounds.

Stocky and I were crouching low with our Lefevers protruding through the reeds, but not an elbow did we crook until the unwary birds had dropped their pale greenish legs and cupped their wings, when we let them have it.

Like experienced duckers we had both selected our bird, but, as bad luck would have it, and as is the case so often that it is incredible, we both selected the same bird. Our pieces cracked like a single gun and the biggest bird in the bunch, a crested and proud old cock, dove down into the mud and moss, headforemost, heavier possibly by a couple of ounces from the quantity of lead we had put into him. With that marvelous speed for which a scared widgeon is justly noted the remaining birds wheeled as if upon so many pivots, but they were no quicker than our merciless selves, and in much less time than it takes to tell it, they got our other barrels. We both got our bird, surprising as that was. Neither, however, was killed dead, and, realizing the abbreviated time it requires a wounded duck to put himself beyond the reach of the most penetrating hammerless, we both hastily reloaded and began pounding away at them. One keeled over at the first shot, but notwithstanding we sent a half dozen charges after the second, which had fallen and fluttered a good way out, we were chagrined to see him clear the entangling mossy shallows, glide out into the open water and make off for the nearest line of rushes on the other shore.

"Well, let him go, philosophically quoth my companion, "he's old and tough, and we don't want him anyway—but great heavens look! look! there comes a thousand of 'em!"

The sight was really one calculated to make a duck hunter's heart leap, and set his blood a-tingling, for if there was a single bird approaching, there were truly, as Stocky had ejaculated, a thousand of them! They were evidently coming from the lower lake, and within the feathery cloud were mallards, redhead, wigeon, bluebill and teal, and from their course we knew they must pass directly over our blind.

Bang! bang! goes Simeral's gun as a couple of outlying stragglers cross the peninsula and, although we caught a glimpse of a falling bird, we could not help but look upon his shot as a calamity. The mass of birds approaching at once began to rise and swerve off to the left and we felt that the auriferous opportunity had passed.

But there was one hope left. Squawk! squawk! quack! quack-quack-quack! industriously I worked my caller in imitation of a solicitous hen, and what was our ineffable delight when the next instant the birds bent back over the body of the lake and again set their pinions on a downward course, making a straight dive for our decoys.

The advance guard was actually settling among the wooden dummies when we arose together and began a fusillade the like of which the most persistent ducker experiences but few times in his whole career.

A half dozen birds fell at the first volley, but so many more were there and so great was the momentum and ignorance of the swarm in the rear that they came on in confused and erratic flight, over and by and all around us. The very air seemed a mesh of frightened and squawking ducks, and as fast as we could load and shoot the intense excitement was maintained. Without exaggeration it must have been a full two minutes before the last distraught bird had regained his course and cleared the dangerous crypt in the perfidious rushes from which a storm of smoke and shot and death had issued.

"By the gods, I thought they were going to rout us, Sandy!" broke out Stocky, turning his flushed and steaming face upon me, but there was no time yet for congratulations and I simply replied "the crips," as I poked my gun out from among the reeds and banged away at a splendid big greenhead, who, despite his shattered wing, was fairly lifting himself through the scant water and fatal mosses. Heth was quickly to my aid, and, although there were no less than five wounded birds striving to escape by diverse routes, we turned over every mother's one of them before the longed for haven of rise and rushes could be reached.

These, with the seven we had extinguished outright, made a plump dozen we had pulled out of the flurry—six mallards, two redheads and four widgeon.

"You take him!" It was a single bird—a hen mallard—and she had just rounded a jutting point on Stocky's side, and, although I could have killed her myself, I did not like to shoot so close over his head. The shot was an unexpected one and he was placed at a disadvavtage, as the bird was bcoming up from behind him. He turned quickly, however, and, despite the fact that it was a snap chance, he made a dead center, dropping her just outside the decoys.

Back to Camp in the Sunset.

We could now see great clouds of birds off in the distance, all of which seemed to be leaving, but we didn't care much, as we had just had such a royal time we were glad of a spell for congratulatory conversation.

"Well, sir, the first bird I—"

The waterworks man's jubilant outburst was cut short by a swish and a splash. A brace of bluebills, like apparitions, had plumped themselves right down in the middle of our decoys, coming whence neither of us had the slightest suspicion.

Unsportsman—like I pushed my gun out through the blind with the whispered admonition that I'd pot 'em both at one fell swoop and banged away. Instead of gently reclining upon the water's surface, as I had implicitly anticipated, both birds lept from the water as if from a spring board and like a twin pair of bullets shot away toward the open lake. With an explanation befitting a sporting editor's ruby lips, I cut loose the second barrel, while Stocky gave them both of his, and although we saw that one of the birds was laggy and hard hit, they both got away, continuing on across the lake, then out over the hay fields and the sand hills until mere specks against the distant background sky.

And thus the sport continued, with intervals of rest, throughout the entire day. Of course there were many little exciting incidents, such as a fine double by one or the other, a ludicrous miss, and dozens of other happenings that always go to make up the whole of such an unexampled day's shooting, but of these I can only speak in a general way, as the record of ten more days is to be recorded.

Not until the red sun was within an half hour of the western bluffs, however, did we leave our reedy concealment and begin the herculean task of retrieving our dead ducks. The last bird deposited in the boat, I gave a sigh of regret that the happy day was gone, and with Stocky using the pole in the stern, I grasped the oars and pulled off for the landing across the lake.

Tired and hungry as we were the trip back to camp was one that will remain ever memorable. In an entrancing sunset and with a boat full of ducks how could it be otherwise? As we slowly proceeded through the low water and clinging moss the sun dropped well behind the frowning hills and yet the lake was checked with masses of light and shade, the chiro-oscuro of the Master hand. The weird bravura of the loon or the wild scream of the fish hawk, in perfect keeping with the wild region, greeted us now and then. Across the darkening lake we slowly crawled, exquisite twilight pictures gleaming out as we passed. Here a brown muskrat house, a colonnade of canes, an arbor of matted rice, a sedgy hung pool, like a peeping eye, where the gamey bass loved to disport; a half-whelmed cotton wood, with the water still sparkling around; an islet of water lilies, or a bit of a bog where the cane stalks cut the breeze into plaintive murmurs, and the splatter-dock curled its spotted dishes among the rushes and fuzzy cat-'o-nine-tails. Sometimes a playful wind stooped to the surface, brushing it into darksome ripples, then fanned our faces and melted away.

It was good and dark when we reached camp, but the lawyer was before us and he not only had a glorious fire roaring away in the stove, but had the tent lighted up with our three lanterns and a supper ready that would have tempted the gods, besides a bag of birds, including a big Canada goose, that would have knocked any of your ordinary hunters into a fit. Of course he told us of his adventures down the peninsula, and while they were varied and interesting, will keep for another week.

The day's work had admirably prepared us all for the enjoyment of a dreamless bed, and we were not slow in tumbling in and were soon lulled to sleep to the plaint of the coyote, whispering winds and brawling brook.

The Lawyer's Geese and a Morning's Shoot From the Shore.

Pencil Picture of a Lonely Solitude

The King of the Skies—Jack Snipe, Yellowlegs and Avocets—Sim's Piscatorial Hallucinations—A Game of High Five Under Difficulties.

Perhaps all duck hunters, no matter how great their stock of vitality, endurance and enthusiasm, know what a hard matter it is to quit a warm pile of blankets at half past 3 on a keen October morning, build a fire, get breakfast and sally forth in damp and frost for the morning flight. But all duck hunters have done it, and all duck hunters will continue to do it, as did Stocky, the lawyer and I on the morning following our first day's big shoot.

It was Heth's turn to play Delmonico and he was the first man up. He crawls reluctantly from out his cosy lair with an ejaculation that sound strangely like "Jesus! but it's cold," lights the lanterns, pulls on his clothes, still fragrant of the marsh, then stands yawning and shivering a moment. An alarmingly long pull at a bottle labeled "Good for Canvasback" evidently accelerates the flow of blood, however, and a fire is quickly roaring in the sheet-iron stove. He then breaks the ice in the big tin bucket, pours some of the chilly water into a dripping pan and washes both face and hands with a single swipe. By this time the lawyer's sympathy has been awakened and with a muffled grunt he crawls out, hits the bottle a resounding whack, dresses and the two speedily prepare breakfast. Ham and eggs, fried mush and coffee-not bad to take, is it?

"As you are going to do the shore act today, Sandy, I want to tell you where I got my shooting yesterday," exclaimed the lawyer as he stabbed a big, ripe eggs, wallowed it around in the ham gravy a second, then flopped it over on his plate. "I've got the dandiest kind of a blind down there and you want to follow the path—but it goes right by the landing, and we'll go down that far together, and I can tell you exactly where it is. You won't have any difficulty finding the spot, for I left enough empty shells there to build a bonfire."

"Were you in the rice?"

"Just in the edge. You follow the path clear down pretty near the point. Before you come to the rice you'll find a patch of tall grass, just this side, and it was there I did my work in the morning. After it got light, however, I found it too open, the birds would see me, so I moved into the rice; and say, you ought to have seen me paralyze them and old Spot bring 'em in! I say, Stocky, that dog of yours is all right. If it hadn't been for him I wouldn't have retrieved more'n half my birds. As it was I only knocked down four that I didn't get. They fell in the thick rushes right on the lake shore and Spot couldn't make it."

"But he tried, didn't he!" and Stocky helped himself to his fourth cup of coffee.

"Betcher your life he did—but I want to tell you 'bout killing my geese-

"Geese!" I remarked, "goose, you mean!"

"Well, maybe you know what I mean better than I do. I said geese and that's what I meant—I killed two of 'em, but one got away."

"Same old fairy tale—"

"What's that? But that is just like you, Gris, you talk as if you had the license to kill all the ducks and geese in South Dakota, and you'd make me out, if you could, no bigger'n your own conscience, and Stocky," waving his fork aloft, "if you find anything smaller'n that you'll have to use a microscope, that's all."

"But the geese, Willie, the geese—you'll forget just how many you did get down if you don't spit it out before it gets cold."

"To h—l with the geese, just keep blabbin' yourself. It doesn't affect me or my credit. I tower above it all like some tall cliff—"

"Well, we're wasting time, Sim; you and Stocky have got a big contract on hand getting 'cross the lake 'fore the fight begins. Let's be off," and I get up from the table and stepping to the front of the tent, push back the flap and poke out my head.

The stars are rapidly paling, and along the horizon to the east a line of gray is stealing. The closer sandhills look like misty humps hanging in midair, while the distant lake yet remains hidden in the sombre twilight.

In a remarkably short time we are ready, and with old Spot caracoling in front and around us, we stalk forth like ghosts and at a good gait make for the lake. With a hearty "so long," I leave Heth and Simeral at the landing, and with Spot at heel continue on my way down the peninsula. I have no difficulty in reaching the lawyer's blind-or the spot where he first crouched in the tall yellow grass on the previous morning—the little narrow coonpath leading me straight to it. The place looked as if a deer had made his form there during the night, and I know that I am right by the empty shells I find scattered about.

Meantime the gray light in the east has changed into delicate amber and the feathery clouds at the zenith had flushed with crimson and day was rapidly breaking. The bluffs began to creep out bold and distinct from the massed mist and prairie and a streak of filmy vapor to crawl along the lake. The barren points came out more plainly and the twitter of the marsh sparrow and black bird was heard. The waters of the lake shortly show diffusing through still sober colors; here a slab of marble gray, there of polish green, while the streaky clouds are blushing into rose and one long diaphanous mass in the east glows into ruby, them beams with gold. Sunrise again on Raccoon lake, with its wondrous and mystic beauties. The limpid waters are now glancing with all the hues of a prism—red and orange, green, blue, purple and violet. Yellow lines run along the tops of the gently swaying cane and rice; the east fairly gleams with its royal banners, and at last, through a vista of the sentinel sandhills, striking the breathing earth into gladdening light, pours a flood of golden balm, the luster of the rising sun.

Suddenly the incomparable melody of the mallard's wing-beat catches my hearing and turning to the right I see a bunch of the birds cutting the air southward bound, but out of gunshot. But mine are not the only ears that catch the sound, old Spot lifts his shapely head from out the grass and looks at me as if to say, "Why didn't you shoot?" and a big tanned hawk rises with a flourish from the thick cane and sweeps on around and down by me, so close that I catch the flash of his wild eyeball. I cover him and follow his graceful flight with my gun, but refrain from touching the trigger, for a glance across the lake revealed the fact that Simeral and Heth had not yet succeeded in working the boat into the blind, otherwise my Lefever would surely have greeted Mr. Red Tail with a hearty bon jour.

The rushes finally swallow up the boat and my companions and I improve our position, determined to open up hostilities at the very next opportunity. I was kept waiting but a brief spell. A rustle in the grass, and I saw Spot lift his curving ears, then the sharp quack of an affrighted mallard greeted ma, and looking up I saw a pair which had been coming straight upon me, evidently, but were now turning back upon their course, having undoubtedly detected my couchant but poorly hidden form. To sling my gun ahead of them was instinct and at the first crack the hen went whirling into the rushes, and at the second a little puff of feathers floated dreamingly to the rear of the drake. It was quite a long shot and I was satisfied. I had killed one bird and hit the other. At the word Spot was up and off, crashing through the dry reeds like some behemoth of the marsh. I heard him as he moved, gingerly about within the labyrinth, shuffling here and plunging there until suddenly all sound ceased a moment, then I heard him returning. The next instant I caught a glimpse of his blue coat, then saw head and shoulders emerge from the reedy thicket, and holding the dead duck in his square jaws, he walked slowly up to where I crouched, erect, like the proud commander of some great army.

"Good boy, Sport!" I exclaimed with favor, but ere I had time to bestow the well merited caress I saw approaching me from over the hills down Hay creek a tremendous flock of birds. They were coming on swiftly into the lake and I had no more time to settle myself that they were over me. They were considerably higher than I had thought, but with both barrels I succeeded in cutting out a bird, and as it fell, with a thud and a bound, not ten feet from my stand, share in my exultation—it was a big canvasback drake! Spot had crouched as I raised my gun, but was now braced upon his stiff front legs, gazing first furtively up in my face, then wistfully toward the little break in the long grass where my prize lay. But I bade him down. That royal plumage should be sacred from the mouth of dog; aye, even, I was fain to believe from the hand of man. It was with peculiar emotions I gazed upon that peerless bird as he lay at my very feet almost, in all his delicate beauty, lay there amidst a tangle of lacey swamp grass and curling ferzy ferns in that wild marsh land. There he lay gasping and drawing down his cinnamon-hooded head spasmodically, until his relaxed body told that the last and final struggle was over; there he lay the king of the skies, so lately cleaving the shimmering air in the glory of his strength and speed of ashen wing, his wariness and caution, at my very feet with a splotch of scarlet on his snowy breast. Beautiful to the last, his deep garnet eye upon me, flashing in terror even through the mists of death.

With what little reference, I thought, exists the greater part of the Deity's creations to man. Some things appear to be made for his use, but what myriads of others, grand and beautiful, have no connection with him or his presence. The canvasback and gloss of fern and grass blade glisten alongside each other in the solitude of the lonely slough. The graceful water fowl, the decaying vegetation, waving still in curves of matchless beauty; the crystal lake, the grandeur of the whole wild landscape, all ask not the eye of man to admire them. Yet this lordly creature in his mighty egotism imagines the world made for him exclusively, instead of being but a single atom in the countless expressions of the Creator, one of the infinitesimal links in the infinite series of creation. All, from the vastly heavens to the squirming ephemeral, are but threads of the mantle which the inscrutable Master wraps about Him for purposes of His own.

"Down, Spot!"

A bunch of birds, like aerial racers are approaching from off towards Three Springs. In fact there are birds in sight almost every direction; a mass of them are circling round and round over the impassable rice fields west of the lake, and large and small flocks are flying aimlessly up and down they lake, across the far end of the headland and over the glinting sand hills from up Hay creek's widening valley. Stocky and Sim have been steadily at work since my first shot, and the frequent crack, crack of their pieces apprise me that they are endeavoring to emulate the achievements of mine and the water works man the day before.

Spot obeys my sharp command and as his blue form drops among the dead flags and grass the bunch of birds I had been watching swing up the arm of the marsh to my left, then come swiftly over the rice almost directly on me. They are redheads. I bend low as on they come. They have now reached the edge of the grass patch, but instead of coming straight on they suddenly swerve and attempt to go up the lake. I pull my Lefever a dozen feet in front of the slate-colored bunch and in quick succession let go both barrels. Three birds are checked and amidst flying feathers, whirl over and over in frantic gyrations into the rice bed. The remainder of the flock go up into the air like a sleigh runner, and then with another of those unaccountable convolutions of which Anas Ferina is alone capable, swoop round with a rush of wing, and start right back over the same dangerous path. I utter softly the peculiar cackling of the bird and down they dive over the swaying stalks as if determined to find out what had become of their ill-fated companions. They were wasting no time in their investigations either, but no more was I. They came opposite my grassy hide again and I gave them another double dose of Walsrode and chilled shot and as good luck would have it I dropped another brace. They did not linger in the vicinity after this second visitation, but, like so many ashen streaks, went off toward the lower lake, out across the valley and over the hay fields and low hills toward Newberry's.

Were these dead birds, lying out there in the rice, the fruits of my moralizing—the consequence of my emotional and sentimental musings over the dead canvasback. It must be true. So, after all, there are no mellowing influences, no mercy in a duck hunter's blind. All refinement of thought is mockery. Slaughter is ever the dominant attribute of the russet-coated monster crouching in grass or willows or reeds, let him be on the shores of the distant Chesapeake, within Koshkonong's ricey domain, or the rushy, reedy borders of lonesome Lugenbeel.

It required but a quarter of an hour for Spot and I to round up the slain, and then, as the day had well advanced. I moved back among the protecting rice stalks. For another hour I had tolerable good shooting, and, as a prospector for advantageous blinds, I mentally voted my legal friend a success.

At last the persecuted fowl became so wild and wary, and flew so high, that it was next to impossible to make a kill, and then they disappeared incontinentally, just as if there never had been goose or duck in all that wild region.

The frescoes of dawn had long since melted away, and the steady light of mature day rested over landscape and water. The rice and the cane dosed in the languid sunshine; the lake itself looked drowsy, and the opposite sand hills half dissolved in October's warm and dreamy haze.

Realizing that the morning's shoot was over I spoke to Spot and forced my way through the mass of rushes to a grassy plat on the lake's shore. Throwing myself in a recumbent position I resolved to enjoy the charming surroundings and rest until I saw the boat leave the blind. As I have already said the birds had entirely ceased to move and I felt that Stocky and Sim would soon be pulling for camp.

Spot curled himself up beside me and as I viewed the scene's repose I though how beautiful, indeed, are these rare autumn days. It is then that nature stills her throbbing pulses, the rushes wave with more tranquil grace, the redwing blackbird chirps in softer tone, the water lapses into calmer ripple. Poets, whose hearts are filled with thoughts of the beautiful, delight to depict the sweet autumn time and the thought spreads tranquility over the mind. What images crowd the fancy when gazing upon such a picture of lovely solitude. What serene joys of thought; what pure and lofty sentiments are its offspring.

It is more than half the chase, that is, to the sportsman whose heart is in the right place.

The yellowlegs, greater and lesser, whistle solemnly as they fly with measured stroke from this mucky shallow to that, and that feathered buffoon of American bird life, the crow, busies himself with petulant cawings in his search for dead fish, stray ducks, snails, or whatever else his omnivorous craw will accommodate, his insatiate appetite crave. The quack of mallard or widgeon floats up from the inaccessible marsh ever and anon, and a muskrat breaks the smooth surface into little ripples as he swims with slow and undulating motion along his aqueous runways among the lily pads, while the eager and merry mosquito buzzes about my ears impertinently, occasionally lighting with a tingle on cheek or bare hand. The gnats, in swarms, hover over weed and water, and the sluggish cluck of the mud hen issues from her wallow in the mire, the flashing dragon fly continually treads the water plants or darts in startling angles over the shallows. Stretching away to the north, the west, the south, in dazzling whites and cool, breezy darks, quiet and solemn as if nothing had ever disturbed it, lies the lake. Look, a kingfisher leaves his sunny seat on yon jutting fragment of cottonwood and with a hoarse shout, as if struggling with a bad case of the grip, caught in the damps of his calling, darts seesawingly away to some still more favored haunt. A red tail hawk, ever on hand about the Raccoon, sweeps up from his sentinel post in the cane and with harsh scream follows. Now he comes back with a circular swoop, balancing himself in midair a moment over some upleaping bass or creeping mouse, then descends majestically, clutches a stout cane stalk and as it sways up and down, clings grimly with his yellow-pillared feet.

Stocky and the lawyer manifesting no disposition to quit the blind, I finally rise, call Spot and start along the oozy shore with the intention of trying my hand on the yellowlegs. I had not traversed more than fifty yards and had just sighted a small drove of big yellowlegs wading in the mossy shallows beyond the point of a slight bend in front, when I was startled by a shrill "skeap!" and from out of the spongy vegetable debris at my feet flashed a jack, and, defiantly repeating his thrilling cry, he darted away, his graceful shape glancing white and russet, first this way and then that, in the bright sunlight. I was quickly onto him, despite his aggravating aerial gymnastics, and at the report of my gun he plunged headlong into the soft mud. Spot retrieved without command, and to my displeasure flushed three more birds before I was ready to shoot. The yellowlegs, too—and I noticed among them a pair of snowy avocets—took wing at the shot, and swung round by me and down the lake. They did not light, though, and I shortly heard their well known "tur wheetle! tur wheetle!" a peculiarly mournful whistle, soft and musical, which this dainty bird utters almost constantly when a-wing. Spot and I charged where we were, and to my delight I saw that the avocets were still with the straggling birds, and that they were going to give me an easy shot. This they did, and I dropped both of them, hardly two yards apart, on the water. Spot made two trips through the slime and moss laying both birds at my feet in perfect style.

The avocet is one of the grallatorial family, with a long bill turned up at the end like the sickle-billed curlew. It also has very long wings and exhibits a general white color, the back and wings of the male being a deep velvety black, while those of the female are of a brownish black.

Placing these handsome specimens with the scolopax in the pocket of my canvas coat, I proceeded on down the shore and in less than an hour made a bag of nine yellowlegs in addition. I had just reached the point in returning, opposite my morning's hide, when I saw Billy and the water works man pushing the scow around in the mud gathering their dead, and hastily looping my ducks together I slung them over my shoulder, and they made a load to pack, I warrant you*—I splashed on down the shore to the landing. Here I dumped my burden, stretching out on my back on the grass and awaited their arrival.

It was now nearly 11 o'clock and as warm and balmy as any June day, and as I lay there waiting I found most agreeable occupation in watching the pictures in the sky. Light, fluffy clouds had flocked the dome all morning and a soft breeze having sprung up there were wondrous doings above. The blue was of that tender tint through which we seem to penetrate to unbounded depths, and beneath it the autumn's breath weaved its graceful cloud paintings. There goes a pillared palace; there comes a grove of palms, while off beyond a fleet of queer craft bears up; then a turreted castle, with its ragged battlements, a cavalcade of nondescript warriors, wrapped in fleecy mantle, while 'way off there on the northwestern horizon looms a superb Alpine peak!

It was no light work, but by noon we had toted all our birds into camp and spread them out in the shade of the tent, and conjointly dished up the noonday meal. Of course my avocets were much admired, and we had an interesting discussion as to their proper classification, weight, etc., but we all agreed that they were the handsomest waders that any of us up to date had fell in with.

"Say, fellows," said the lawyer, who by the way is one of the most successful fishermen Omaha can boast of, "I thought you said there were no fish in the Raccoon!"

"That has always been the understanding," I replied. "Anse Newberry has told me many a time that he has never taken a fish from these waters."

"Well, Anse is off his nut," emphatically continued Mr. Blackstone, as he drew a match athwart the fundamental basis of his corduroys and lighted his odorous briarwood. "There are plenty of fish here. Why, the lake is fairly working with them. Haven't you seen them breaking the surface in all directions all morning. No? Well I have, and I've seen the fish, too. Every deep hole in the moss out there is full of fish, and I'll show you what they look like this evening. Say, how would a mess of fried fish go, any way?"

"Immense," responded Stocky and I in concert.

"Well, we'll have it tonight then. Wasn't it lucky I insisted on bringing our rods? I'll have some sport this afternoon you read about. You and Stocky, Mr. Sporting Editor, can go after the jacks; I'll not. Fish, gentlemen, bass, croppie, or bullhead, it makes little difference to me, but fish I am bound to have. What's the matter with a game of high five for an hour or so? I'm purty tired, still I've got a handful of quarters here I don't want to carry any longer, so get down here on the bed. Pull your legs over, Stocky. Run 'em out under the tent if there isn't room here. Heavens! who said all the flies were dead? What are they, anyway? They've got teeth like alligators." And Simeral flourished a tea towel about his head as if in a nest or hornets.

True enough, the tent seemed absolutely alive with flies, the warm weather and savory odors of table had brought them out in hordes—little slender black fellows, built somewhat on the plan of the common housefly, only they were a thousand fold more persistent and as saucy as so many blue devils.

"Deal Sandy," resumed Sim, with a slap at his face.

"What's trumps (another slap) demnition on these flies. I thought they had all gone south—(threshing the tea-towel wildly about) let me once get the lead—there put your five on, no monkeying—and I'll win your stuff too easy. Didn't I tell you—pull, pull, your cork's under play I mean. Stocky, play, we're only going to stay here three weeks—you know. Whew, did you ever see so many flies. I say, Sandy, do they always trouble you thus—thusly up here? Why, the air's full of 'em—wish I had some dynamite—that would get 'em-—(scraping his cheek with the jack of spades). Put up—put up yourself, that's my quarter—I just laid it there. Didn't I—there, I killed a pair of 'em then—" and the lawyer rolled a couple of the pests between his finger ends—"cut the cords—heavens! this is coming too thick. Look at 'em coming in that hole there (jumping up and slashing the air frantically with the towel) not alone, but in pairs, families, companies, battalions, divisions, whole armies, tribes, nations! Lovely place this for a quiet game! Whiz! swish! whiz! the good Lord save me—let me shuffle them cards. I'm no guy—(slap)—I tell you there's nothing the matter with—(slap)—with me. I'm only crazy—that's all, daft, mad, raving mad—I hear them, I feel them, Jehovah knows I see them; yes, and by the gods, I taste them—there's two in my mouth, one in each ear—and dem me, if there isn't one up my nose! Take the money—I want to get out of this—good day!" And as the lawyer jumped and dashed out of the tent we found that he had been sitting on three aces and an assortment of kings and queens.

I tell you, that boy's a card shark!

An Afternoon With the Grouse and the Incomparable Jack.

An Old Gander Meets an Ignoble Fate

Simeral Shows the World How to Land a Black Bass and Backs His Boast with a Supper Fit for the Gods—Lulled to Sleep by the Coyote's Yelp.

Evidently it was a very obvious fact that nothing human could swerve the lawyer from his laudable determination to try the fish and as hunters always crave fish when they think they are not to be had, Stocky and I were perfectly satisfied that he should. In the meantime we would act upon his suggestion and give the jacks a whirl.

"The ducks will fly no more until evening, anyway, Stocky," I remarked, "and I think we can make a nice bag of the longbills. There are the finest grounds in the world, all around the north and west sides of the lake."

"The sooner we are off then the better, for if there is anything I am stuck on next to duck shooting it is the jacks," replied Heth.

"It are the jacks, you mean," broke in Simeral, as he busied himself rigging his rod, "where'd you go to college, anyway?"

"Council Bluffs," and Stocky emptied another box of No. 9s in his outside hunting pocket.

Everything was in readiness in a very brief time. Blackstone, rod a-shoulder, had already started off through the golden grass to the south, and calling Spot, who was curled up in the hay in the shade of the tent, we started up the little arroyo to the north, intending to skirt that side of the bluffs in the hopes of knocking over a grouse or two before we reached the snipe grounds.

We were not disappointed, for we had hardly traversed a stone's throw from Camp Merganzer when Spot stuck out his nose and began to snuff delicately. That the autumn atmosphere was tainted by some lurking bird we both well knew, and we both got ready for a shot. Quickly the dog trotted on several yards, then slackened his pace to a slow walk, as if treading on thin ice, and finally stopped, and with eyes half closed and dripping crimson nostrils expanding and contracting stood as rigid as if carved from stone.

Stocky and I had all too little time to enjoy the thrilling picturesqueness of the situation, when an old hen grouse, with that angry cluck-cluck of hers, arose from the grass and made a futile endeavor to clear the brow of the low sand hill.


The hen struck the sand, with a thud and a flurry of flying particles, well up the hill, then rolled on down until she landed against one of those clumps of cactaceous plants so numerous in this region.

"Oh, no, I can't kill grouse, can I?" interrogatively exclaimed the waterworks man as he slipped in another shell.

"Nobody said you couldn't," I rejoined, breaking my gun and loading the empty barrel, "but had I waited another second that bird would have cleared the hill."

"Waited—you—you don't mean to say you killed that bird, do you?" and he gazed at me in blank astonishment. "Why, man, you didn't shoot!"

"Didn't you though? You saw me just put in a shell, didn't you? Yes. And you say you shot?"

"I should smile."

"It's no wonder then she came nearly boring a hole through the sandhill. She got a double dose. We shot together."

Chicken and quail shooters will doubtless all appreciate this occurrence. It will happen, mayhap, a half-dozen times a day where two men are shooting, with preconcerted understanding over a single dog. It is almost miraculous, however, how you will both press the trigger at the same time, so close that the two reports blend into one, leaving each ignorant that the other had shot.

We tramped on for a quarter of a mile further, meantime killing four more grouse, before we ascended the bluff that overlooked the snipe grounds, as well as the whole environing country.

We halted for a moment's rest and to get a view of the beautiful surroundings when we reached the brow of the hill. The legendary Raccoon never looked more entrancingly picturesque, with the playful summer breeze—for the weather could not have been more bland—darting over its gloss and the sunlight kissing it into riant smiles. As I gazed enrapt, I thought, what a splendid wilderness of shining water, glittering sand, waving reed, rush and grass, the whole scope within our vision made; so lonely in its encompassing details, so imposing in its sweep of grandeur. Somewhat like Thor, it does not require a stupendous Niagara, with its reverberating thunders, a beetling crag, inaccessible peak or wild and majestic canon for me to discover the beautiful. Far to the south, through shimmering haze, loomed the Niobrara bluffs, while between stretched a very network of dew drops, fragments of the sprawling lake, glittering within rice and cane. To the east through an embouchure of the sandhills, wound the lonely Hay creek, dim artery to the core of the whole region's heart, its gloomy fastnesses and tenebrious shades, the diurnal fastnesses and tenebrious shades, the diurnal home of the skunk and the coyote.

"Isn't this great, Stocky?" I remarked, still peering eagerly, as if I would penetrate to the greater mysteries beyond, upon the measureless stretch of pictures before me.

"Great! I wish I owned the whole business, but the snipe, let's get after 'em. Look how Spot is begging to go ahead."

A few moments later and we were in the boggy mire that hemmed the lake in clear around to the tote road leading to Newberry's. The waters of the lake, under the increasing breeze, were now all a-chop with little white caps, causing it to gleam and corruscate in the yellow sunshine like an expanse of shifting gems. The yellow legs, with a curlew here and there, and hordes of the ever restless and incessantly piping lesser waders, still fed undisturbed in the shallows, because they were too far out to be retrieved without a boat, and we knew that to shoot them and leave them lay over night was only to make banquet for muskrat and owl. So we tramp on, Spot working cautiously just in the van. A bunch of greenwings rise from a bed of smart weed just out of range in front, and go whizzing out into the lake; a brown heron spread his white sails from a little mucky islet, while the red-tail hawk, always visible here, two, three, four of them, circle and float and dart over the rice fields, blackbirds twitter and start up with a whir of wing from every clump of reeds, while off there, sweeping over the rolling back ground, is a large eagle, the feathered emblem of Uncle Sam.

Presently we reach a point where the grass, peeping from out this brackish pool and that, looked as fresh and green as in May, and I admonished Stocky to be on the qui vive. It was a sort of a wild meadow, spreading away clear to the foot of the northern sandhills, and was so softened and toned down with such a rural aspect that I almost caught myself looking for the farm house.

As I have frequently remarked before, I care nothing for a dog for snipe shooting, but it would have been an outrage to have chained old Spot in camp that bright afternoon, when he enjoys the sport so thoroughly, and we were all out for an outing together, and, of course, I knew he would not come amiss in recovering the killed, for a dead snipe—as all experienced gunners will bear me out—is about as difficult a thing to find as that proverbial needle in the haystack. Without the aid of a dog the most extreme punctiliousness must be exercised in marking them down the moment they drop, and then they should be retrieved as promptly as the nature of circumstances will permit, for the homogeneousness of any first class snipe ground is a never ceasing source of wonder and perplexity.

Spot was now springing quickly about among the conical tussocks. He made a circle, then trotted up to us, but a wave of the hand hied him on. He advanced rapidly but gingerly through the brackish puddles, and as he searched grassy crypt and reedy cavern with outstretched nose he made a picture well calculated to set the blood to tingling in at least his owner's veins, if not in those of any true sportsman. We know by his actions that our game was close, but suddenly, before he had made any sign of coming to a stand, we were startled by a very chorus of the gallinago's flushing cry.

Skeap! skeap! skeap! and away here and there and there and there darted a little white and russet shape, some flying up off over the cane and others low over the bog, as if to disconcert us as much as possible.

But the scheme was only partially successful. With our four barrels we got down three.

There must have been at least fifteen or twenty birds flushed, but why Spot hadn't gotten onto them I cannot say. Probably the sudden change from Pediocates Phaseanelius to Scolopax was too much for him. Stocky and I at once realized that we were in for a royal afternoon's sport, so we went at it systematically and leisurely, determined to make as big a kill as possible. The sultry weather had rendered the birds lazy and sluggish, and those that rose high in the air even did not go far. They dropped scatteringly over about a half acre of bog in our advance, among the low reeds and in the grassy sloughs. Spot still stood crouching, with his great eyes fastened wistfully upon us, but at the command to "go fetch" he was quickly busy, and in the shake of a lamb's tail we had our dead birds pocketed.

Then we went at it, and as the assistance of the belton's keen nose was now absolutely unnecessary, if not a downright hindrance, the waterworks man ordered him to heel. He followed us meekly, as all well broke dogs should, but with an abused and entreating look in his human-like eyes.

The change in the sport was delightfully revivifying. Stocky took the north side of the mire and I the south, and we hadn't gone more than fifty yards until we jumped another flurry of birds, out of which we got two more. Then I made a clean miss at a single—shot too quick at the zigzagging little rascal—neither barrel being sufficient to stop him. And to make this more tantalizing, the next moment Stocky executed a superb double—to the right and left—the latter falling not ten steps from where I stood. This one I retrieved myself and strode ahead, resolved to redeem myself or jump in the lake. For the next ten minutes we were both exceedingly industrious, and the crack, crack of our Lefevers was something after the fashion of a skirmish line on a small scale. The birds were exceedingly plentiful, and as fat and almost as big as woodcock. In fact I never saw the Wilsonii in such fine feather, not even back in my old English Lake days, where I used to think the jack got bigger and fatter than any place in the world. Youthful enthusiasm, however, goes a long ways in enhancing the size and quality of game.

Heth and I finally converged together at the upper end of the patch of bog we had been shooting in, at the mouth of a small slough, which twisted away half hidden beneath the seer and cracked leaves of the splatterdock and fallen swamp grass, undoubtedly the lurking place in the summer time of batrachian, pinkeye and garter snake. We both felt confident of finding more birds on such admirable grounds, and together we started up the run. That our ideas were correct was shortly exemplified, for in less than a quarter of an hour we were in the thick of another storm of birds. There couldn't have been less than two dozen of them. As in the first instance they all got up together—a rare thing with the jacks save in the early spring time—and went whirling away in all directions, some dropping down again like ghosts among the nigger heads, but the most of them rose right up into space as fast as they could climb, many of these being probably the ones we had flushed first. Stocky and I watched the birds in the air a moment to see what they meant to do, and we were vexed to see them still ascending until they were mere specks against the fleece-covered sky. Here they circled and fluttered and convoluted in the jack's well known erratic way, until finally they went off to the south and disappeared entirely. All about us, in the soft, rich soil we could see where they had been boring for worms and larvae, while the pencilings of their delicate feet, crossing and recrossing like network, showed that the spot was a favorite one for both feeding and play.

"Down, Sandy! down! geese!" was Stocky's abrupt, mandatory warning, as if by instinct in a flash I was on all fours in the soft mud, trying to secret as much of my symmetrical form among the scanty stalks as possible. The waterworks man was flat upon his stomach, while Spot, who was half submerged in a convenient pool, refreshing himself, remained as immobile as if he was stationary adjunct to the wild scene.

I peered eagerly through the cane without locating the birds, but honk! ahhonk! ahhonk! was the thrilling melody that filled my hearing. The next moment I see them—a line of some ten or a dozen big Canadas with measured wing stroke was advancing straight onto us from over the bluffs, not thirty yards high. With hearts pulsating savagely, though absolutely moveless, we keep our strained positions and wait. Neither dared speak to the other, nor move a muscle, and think of it, we were loaded with No. 9s, it was a trying situation, yet a rapturous one. On they came. It is a hard matter to curb one's self under such circumstances, but my pard and I were equal to the task. On they came, swiftly now it seemed as they were getting close. The leader, a sturdy old veteran of many an Arctic exploration, I'll bet, was a little in the advance of the main line, about the middle. Regularly he sounded his resonant honk that all was well, little dreaming of the inveterate foe crouching in the weeds and grass. They are now so close that we can see the whites of their eyes and are raising perceptibly, as they invariably do on approaching open water. There was no time for further loitering, and like electric machines Stocky and I were both upon our feet. The birds break for the upper regions squawking, awestricken, bewildered! I gave the old pilot my first barrel plump in his gray belly, and as he drops his pinkish legs with a discordant honk and begins to climb I pour another ounce and a quarter of snipe shot into him. A half second after another report breaks sharply on the air; it is Stocky's second barrel, and the old gander gets it. Still he does not let go, but badly hurt he turns and goes off slantingly toward the lake. It required double the time for Stocky and I to reload in our excitement that it would in ordinary times, but we finally get the shells in and both calling for Spot to go get him, we start pell mell through mud and weed and water after the falling goose. He reaches the lake and half tumbles, half plunges into its translucent depths. There is much confusion and flying spray and flapping of wings, but he rights himself finally and sinking the bulk of lavender body beneath the surface, starts off majestically for the nearest line of rushes, leaving splotches of froth and bubbles in his wake.

Spot springs out into the slime of the shallows and as speedily as he can force his way through the obstructing mud and reeds takes after him, while Stocky and I keep pumping away at him as fast as we can shoot and load. In a fortuitous moment Heth fishes up a shell of No. 1s from the depths of his hip pocket and with clumsy fingers gets it into his gun. Then follows a deliberate aim, a report, a little louder than usual, and the gander's neck comes down on the water like a string, he flaps one wing viciously, rolls over on his back dead, ot the the next thing to it. His legs are still beating the air convulsively when Spot makes a couple of snatches at him, as if he intended to bite out a mouthful or two for his share of the work, then those broad jaws close over him, and half carrying, half dragging, he brings him in.

He was a grand bird and maybe Stocky and I weren't elated over this rare bit of fortune.

We then resumed our sport with the jacks, but as our pockets are already bulging with game, our clothes soggy and steaming from our perspiratory exertions, our legs weak and unsteady, and a sort of goneness in our stomachs, we soon start for camp, intending to swing round the lake to where we knew we would find the lawyer engaged in his ichthyological pursuits if he had found things like he swore he would find them.

It was getting well along toward evening when we reached the point on the lake shore, out from which, with waders pulled well upon his hips, we found the lawyer, in the water and whipping out the fish just about as rapidly as he could handle them. he hadn't been at it very long, for as he explained, he hardly reached the lake shore after leaving us at the camp, when he fell in the grass and broke the second splice in his rod square off. He was mad, but strode valiantly back to camp, mended the stick, which took him quite a while, then returned and truly as he had declared, found the waters of Raccoon fairly teeming with finny prizes.

It was the most propitious hour-barring the early morning—just before sunset, for the angler, and Sim was making up for lost time.

"Look in that clump of grass there to your right, you fellows," called out Billy as we reached the shore, "if you want to see what I've been doing," and there was no mistaking the exultant twang in his voice.

We did so, and were not only astonished, but highly delighted to find about as handsome a lot of fish as you ever saw. Pickerel, gordon and small mouth black bass, not one or two, but a score or more—some of them reaching as high as four pounds in weight.

"What are you baited with Sim?" inquired Stocky, as we stepped down as close to the water's edge as was advisable.

"Only the fly—the professor—but watch me kill this fellow. Whew! I'll bet he's a daisy!"

He had a strike.

Off went the stricken fish like a flash, but the lawyer holds him skillfully, with rod ending, but line taut. Deeper plunges Mr. Pickerel or Mr. Bass; then he changes his course and comes swiftly toward the keen angler, who reels in as swiftly as hand can act; now he lets out again, as the fish is off in another direction; now he goes round, cutting the water into froth as he skims just beneath the surface, then down into the cool depths once more. Billy plays him with enviable adroitness, switching him back from this barrier of moss, working him away from the reeds; giving him line and taking it away from him, but all this time approaching the bank backwards, gradually, but surely. He is now up in the shallow water and the fish is fatigued; there is one or two more feeble efforts, a flap of the tail on the surface, a general collapse, one more vigorous plunge, a skillful jerk, and the lawyer tosses out a three-pound bass upon the sedgy bank.

Stocky and I turn him over and over and admire the fading blazonry of his blackish green sides, and feel that the feat we just saw so expertly performed by our legal comrade fully equalled our own achievement with the big Canada, and we both mentally resolved that there should be but precious few more sunsets before we took a little of it in ours. We remained there and watched Sim until the tender tints began to tremble away into the soft pearl of the deeping twilight. The rushy islands and rice beds in the west threw masses of shade on the western rim of the lake; the sunset sky with its straggling nebula, was one glitter of light, and the water broke into a glory of color. Not a fragment of cloud, not a flying hue, but now found upon its delicate texture its exact imitation. Tints indetectable in the atmosphere kindled its rippling open stretches, changing its appearance almost momentarily. Now it smiled in tenderest azure, then a little breath of wind lighted upon it and a gleam of silver cut athwart; next some impalpable shade turned it into purple. Finally it settled into softest quiet and divinist colors, then blackened and as the sun's light waned, lapsed into the dull grey of night.

The gathering darkness around, the black wall of the hills, the murky prairie; the plaintive singing of the breeze, the hoot of the night owl and the distant moan of the coyote—all made a scene of solitude you would have thought impossible an hour before. Man! how far off he appeared, and how near the Master. In the night time, the prairie and the sand hills and the sleeping lake combines in one great tongue, speaking unceasingly to our hearts; inciting us to knowledge of ourselves and to love of the Supreme Father. Not in the solitude of the woods, the desert, nor on the objectless bosom of the mighty ocean do we more deeply realize His presence than we do in such a lonely and seemingly barren waste as the Lugenbeel marshes. Here, with all the outdoors for our worshipping temple, our hearts expanding and our thoughts welling up unhindered and unfettered, away from all the turmoils of city life, we seem to stand before Him, face to face!

As we trudged slowly through the grass to camp, each one silently surrendered himself to the influences of the hour, and it was more like a funeral procession than the return of a successful and light hearted hunting party. Once within the canvas walls of Camp Merganzer, however, the fire roaring in the stove and lamps lighted, everything changed. The day's buoyancy of spirit returned, and each endeavored to outdo the other in his recountal of the afternoon's experience.

The lawyer, of course, was the most voluble of us all. The usufructuary jubilance of his fishing achievements was fairly consuming him, and the tales he told us—and he told them well—would have made Munchausen hide his face in shame, and an ordinary, everyday sort of sportsman go bury himself alive. He wasn't a bit tired, so he claimed, and as Stocky and I had had a pretty hard tramp of it all the afternoon, he insisted on getting supper all by himself. And what a supper he did get up. baked pickerel, garnished with wild cress, baked sweet potatoes, shrimp salad, corn bread, tomatoes, delicious coffee, and tea, too, and fluffy corn bread, with a nip of Jack Wood's peerless McKibbon for a starter and an appetizer. After all the good things said, and we lay in a row, like the babes in the woods, on our couch of blankets and hay, we must have resembled, so corpulent had we become, a trio of Henry Vosses outstretched on a line.

To the mournful sussuration of the south wind as it toyed with tent flap and grass, and the coyote concert on the distant bluff's side, we fell into the embrace of nature's sweet restorer—sleep.

Sandy Griswold.