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FLIGHT SECOND_THE COVES OF CRUACHAN.
COMMA-semicolon-colon-full-point! All three scent-struck into attitude steady as stones. That is beautiful. Ponto straight as a rod—Piro in a slight curve—and Basta a perfect semicircle. O'Bronte ! down on your marrowbones. But there is no need, Hamish, either for hurry or haste. On such ground, and on such a day, the birds will lie as if they were asleep. Hamish, the flask !-not the powder-flask, you dotterel -but the Glenlivet. 'Tis thus we always love to steady our hand for the first shot. It gives a fine feeling to the forefinger.
Ha! the heads of the old cock and hen, like snakes, above the heather-motionless, but with glancing eyes — and preparing for the spring. Whirr—whirr—whirrbang-bang-tapsilleery—tapsalteery-thud—thudthud! Old cock and old hen both down, Hamish. No
mean omen, no awkward augury, of the day's sport. Now for the orphan family-marked ye them round
“ The swelling instep of the mountain's foot ?"
“ Faith and she's the teevil's nainsel that is she-at the shutin'; for may I tine ma mull, and never pree sneeshin' mair, if she hae na richt and left murdered fowre o' the creturs !”_" Four !-why we only covered the old people; but if younkers will cross, 'tis their own fault that they bite the heather.”—“ They're a' fowre spewin', sir, except ane—and her's head's aff—and she's jumpin' about waur nor ony o' them, wi' her bluidy neck. I wuss she mayna tak to her wings again, and owre the knowe. But ca' in that great toozy ootlandish dowg, sir, for he's devourin' them—see hoo he's flingin' them, first ane and then anither, outowre his shoother, and keppin' them afore they touch the grun in his mooth, like a mountebank wi' a shoor o oranges !"“ Hamish, are they bagged ?”—“ Ou aye.”—“ Then away to windward, ye sons of bitches—Heavens, how they do their work !”
Up to the time of our grand climacteric we loved a wide range—and thought nothing of describing and discussing a circle of ten miles diameter in a day, up to our hips in heather. But for these dozen or twenty years bypast, we have preferred a narrow beat, snugly seated on a shelty, and pad the hoof on the hill no more. Yonder is the kind of ground we now love-for why should an old man make a toil of a pleasure ? 'Tis one of the many small coves belonging to Glen-Etive, and looks down from no very great elevation upon
the Loch. Its bottom, and sides nearly halfway up, are green pastures, sheep-nibbled as smooth as a lawn-and a rill, dropping in diamonds from the cliffs at its upper end, betrays itself, where the water is invisible, by a line of still livelier verdure. An old dilapidated sheepfold is the only building, and seems to make the scene still more solitary. Above the green pastures are the richest beds and bosoms of heather ever bees murmured onand above them nothing but bare cliffs. A stiff breeze is now blowing into this cove from the sea-loch; and we shall slaughter the orphan family at our leisure. 'Tis probable they have dropped-single bird after single bird-or in twos and threes-all along the first line of heather that met their flight; and if so, we shall pop them like partridges in turnips. Three points in the game! Each dog, it is manifest, stands to a different lot of feathers; and we shall slaughter them, without dismounting, seriatim. No, Hamish—we must dismount -give us your shoulder—that will do. The Crutch —now we are on our pins. Take a lesson. Whirr ! Bang! Bag number one, Hamish. Ay, that is right, Ponto-back Basta. Ditto, ditto Now Ponto and Basta both back Piro— right and left this time—and not one of the brood will be left to cheep of Christopher. Be ready—attend us with the other double-barrel. Whirr! Bang-bang-bang-bang! What think you of that, you son of the mist? There is a shower of feathers ! They are all at sixes and sevens upon the greensward at the edge of the heather. Seven birds at four shots! The whole family is now disposed offather, mother, and eleven children. If such fire still be in the dry wood, what must it have been in the green? Let us lie down in the sheltered shade of the mossy walls of the sheepfold—take a drop of Glenlivet -and philosophize.
Hollo! Hamish, who are these strange, suspiciouslooking strangers thitherwards-bound, as hallan-shaker a set as may be seen on an August day? Ay, ay, we ken the clan. A week's residence to a man of gumption gives an insight into a neighbourhood. Unerring physiognomists and phrenologists are we, and what with instinctive, and what with intuitive knowledge, we keek in a moment through all disguise. He in the centre of the group is the stickit minister—on his right stands the drunken dominie—on his left the captain, who in that raised look retains token of delirium tremens—the landlouper behind him is the land-measurer, who would be well to do in the world were he “ monarch of all he surveyed,”—but has been long out at elbows, and his society not much courted since he was rude to the auld wife at the time the gudeman was at the peats. That fine tall youth, the widow's son in Gleno, and his friend the Sketcher, with his portfolio under his arm, are in indifferent company, Hamish; but who, pray, may be the phenomenon in plush, with bow and arrow, and tasseled horn, bonnet jauntily screwed to the sinister, glass stuck in socket, and precisely in the middle of his puckered mouth a cigar. You do not say so—a grocer's apprentice from the Gorbals !
No need of confabulating there, gemmen, on the knowe—come forward and confront Christopher North. We find we have been too severe in our strictures. After all, they are not a bad set of fellows, as the world goes—imprudence must not be too harshly condemned Shakspeare taught us to see the soul of good in things evil—these two are excellent lads; and, as for impertinence, it often proceeds from mauvais honte, and with a glance we shall replace the archer behind his counter.
How goes it, Cappy? Rather stiff in the back, minister, with the mouth of the fowlingpiece peeping out between the tails of your long coat, and the butt at the back of your head, by way of bolster? You will find it more comfortable to have her in hand. That bamboo, dominie, is well known to be an air-gun. Have you your horsepistol with you to-day, surveyor? Sagittarius, think you, you could hit, at twoscore, a haystack flying? Sit down, gentlemen, and let's have a crack.
So ho ! so ho! so ho! We see her black eyes beneath a primrose tuft on the brae. In spring all one bank of blossoms; but ’tis barish now and sheep-nibbled, though few eyes but our own could have thus detected there the brown back of Mawkin. Dominie, your Bamboo. Shoot her sitting? Fie fie—no, no.
Kick her up, Hamish. There she goes.
We are out of practice at single ball—but whizz ! she has it between the shoulders. Head over heels she has started anotherwhy, that's funny-give us your bow and arrow you green grocer—twang ! within an inch of her fud. Gentlemen, suppose we tip you a song. Join all in the chorus.