Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/41

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The Passenger Pigeon

with such ease and elegance of evolution, forming new figures, and varying these as they united or separated, that I never was tired of contemplating them. Sometimes a hawk would make a sweep on a particular part of the column from a great height, when, almost as quick as lightning, that part shot downwards out of the common track, but soon rising again, continued advancing at the same height as before. This inflection was continued by those behind, who, on arriving at this point, dived down, almost perpendicularly, to a great depth, and rising, followed the exact path of those that went before. As these vast bodies passed over the river near me, the surface of the water, which was before smooth as glass, appeared marked with innumerable dimples, occasioned by the dropping of their dung, resembling the commencement of a shower of large drops of rain or hail.

Happening to go ashore one charming afternoon, to purchase some milk at a house that stood near the river, and while talking with the people within doors, I was suddenly struck with astonishment at a loud rushing roar, succeeded by instant darkness, which, on the first moment, I took for a tornado about to overwhelm the house and everything around in destruction. The people, observing my surprise, coolly said: "It is only the pigeons"; and on running out I beheld a flock, thirty or forty yards in width, sweeping along very low between the house and the mountain, or height, that formed the