Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/426

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374
AUDUBON

young uses many beautiful stratagems to save its brood, and elude the hunter. They will dive and lead their young under the surface of the water, and always in a contrary direction to the one expected; thus if you row a boat after one it will dive under it, and now and then remain under it several minutes, when the hunter with outstretched neck, is looking, all in vain, in the distance for the stupid Goose! Every time I read or hear of a stupid animal in a wild state, I cannot help wishing that the stupid animal who speaks thus, was half as wise as the brute he despises, so that he might be able to thank his Maker for what knowledge he may possess. I found many small flowers open this day, where none appeared last evening. All vegetable life here is of the pygmy order, and so ephemeral that it shoots out of the tangled mass of ages, blooms, fructifies, and dies, in a few weeks. We ascertained to-day that a party of four men from Halifax took last spring nearly forty thousand eggs, which they sold at Halifax and other towns at twenty-five cents per dozen, making over $800; this was done in about two months. Last year upwards of twenty sail were engaged in "egging;" so some idea may be formed of the birds that are destroyed in this rascally way. The eggers destroy all the eggs that are sat upon, to force the birds to lay again, and by robbing them regularly, they lay till nature is exhausted, and few young are raised. In less than half a century these wonderful nurseries will be entirely destroyed, unless some kind government will interfere to stop the shameful destruction.

June 22. It was very rainy, and thermometer 54°. After breakfast dressed in my oilskins and went with the captain in the whale-boat to the settlement at the entrance of the true Natasquan, five miles east. On our way we saw numerous Seals; these rise to the surface of the water, erect the head to the full length of the neck, snuff the air, and you also, and sink back to avoid any further