Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/65

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As James Fenimore Cooper Saw It

ONE of the most graphic descriptions ever written of a pigeon flight and slaughter is to be found in Cooper's novel, "The Pioneers," from which I make the following extracts:

"See, cousin Bess! see, Duke, the pigeon-roosts of the south have broken up! They are growing more thick every instant. Here is a flock that the eye cannot see the end of. There is food enough in it to keep the army of Xerxes for a month and feathers enough to make beds for the whole country. . . . The reports of the firearms became rapid, whole volleys rising from the plain, as flocks of more than ordinary numbers darted over the opening, shadowing the field like a cloud; and then the light smoke of a single piece would issue from among the leafless bushes on the mountain, as death was hurled on the retreat of the affrighted birds, who were rising from a volley, in a vain effort to escape. Arrows and missiles of every kind were in the midst of the flocks; and so numerous were the birds, and so low did they take their flight, that even long poles, in the hands of those on the sides of the moun-