Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/25

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My Boyhood Among the Pigeons

"Mother, I am going for pigeons to-morrow morning! Do call me if I oversleep. I must be awake by four o'clock. We'll have pigeon pot-pie to-morrow. I'm going to bed early so as to be sure to be up by day-break. Old Sport is going along to 'fetch' dead birds."

"Hello, dad," cries a voice in my ear, "what are you up to? What are you hustling around so for with your old shot pouch and powder-flask? There's nothing to shoot this time of the year."

The spell is broken; my own boy fetches his daddy out of his dream, and I am fairly caught in the act of making an old fool of myself. My youngsters are counting the days before May first when I have promised to take them trout-fishing, and the smallest boy found his first gun in his stocking last Christmas. But they can know nothing at all about the joys and excitement of pigeon shooting in the vanished days when these birds fairly darkened the sky above our old homestead. But I try to tell them what we used to do and my story sounds something like this:

"It is early in the spring, so early that a bunch of snow may yet be found on the north side of the largest of the fallen trees in the woods. Puddles that the melting snow left in the hollows of the clearing are fringed with ice this morning, and we look around and tell each other, 'There was a frost last night.' The mud in the road has stiffened, and the rutted cattle tracks are also streaked and barred with ice. Yet winter has gone and