Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/26

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The Passenger Pigeon

spring is here, for the buds are swelling on the twigs of the elms and the pussy willows show their dainty, silvery signals to tell us that the vernal equinox has come and gone.

"If the springtime is still young, so is the day. Light is breaking in the gray sky of dawn as we hurry along the slippery, sticky road. We must make haste to the point of woods, by John Winter's clearing, before full daybreak or the pigeons will be flying and we will miss the early flocks which always keep nearest the ground.

"You may be curious to know what we look like as we trudge along in Indian file, eagerly chatting about a kind of sport which this later generation knows nothing about. I am a chunk of a country lad, topped by a woolen cap with ear-tabs pulled down over my ears, a tippet around my neck, yarn mittens on my hands, which are sure to be badly skinned and chapped this time of year from playing 'knuckle-down-tight.'

"My 'every-day pants' are tucked into a pair of calf-skin boots with square pieces of red leather for the tops, an old-fashioned adornment dear to Young America of my day. My old Irish water spaniel 'Sport' is tagging behind or charging frantically ahead; my gun is a sixteen-gauge muzzle loader, stub and twist barrels, with dogs' heads for the hammers.

"Dangling from one shoulder is a leather shot pouch that cuts off one ounce of number eights for a load. The sides of this pouch are embossed, on the one a