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drums the ruffed strutter on his ancient hemlock log. Ice cools not his blood, nor the deep snow-drift, whence he, startled, whirrs impetuous to the solemn pines, and his hiding places of laurel and tangled rhododendron, laughing at cheated dogs and wearied sportsmen. A bird to set traps for. Unfamiliar, rough, rugged hermit. Dry meat. I like him not.
The quail is the bird for me. He is no rover, no emigrant. He stays at home, and is identified with the soil. Where the farmer works, he lives, and loves and whistles.* In budding spring time, and in scorching summer-in bounteous autumn, and in barren winter, his voice is heard from the same bushy hedge fence, and from his customary cedars. Cupidity and cruelty may drive him to the woods, and to seek more quiet seats ; but be merciful and kind to him, and he will visit your barn-yard, and sing for you upon the boughs of the apple-tree by your gate-way. But when warm May first woos the young flowers to open and receive her breath, then begin the loves, and jealousies, and duels of the heroes of the bevy. Duels, too often, alas! bloody and fatal! for there liveth not an individual of the gallinaceous order, braver, bolder, more enduring than a cock quail, fighting for his ladye-love. Arms, too, he wieldeth, such as give no vain blows, rightly used. His mandible serves for other purposes than mere biting of grasshoppers and picking up Indian corn. While the dire affray rages, Miss Quailina looketh on, from her safe perch on a limb, above the combatants, impartial spectatress, holding her love under her left wing, patiently; and when the vanquished craven finally bites the dust, descends and rewards the conquering hero with her heart and hand.
* I am not unaware that Audubon describes the quail as migratory at the west, and that he says the shores of the Ohio, in the fall, are covered with "flocks.” Nor am I ignorant that Wilson says he has heard that the bird is migratory in Nova Scotia. It may be so; but our quails are better brought up. Nevertheless, I do not care to believe everything that students of Linnæus and Buffon say, who talk of flocks of partridges, and mean bevies of quail. By-the-by, what is the reason that the whole race of or. nithologists call the partidge tetrao, which is latin for a bustard and a wild turkey. It is not the less to be admired that they call the quail perdix Virginiana. If they had supped with Horace and Catullus, and all that set,
as Colonel Hawker and I have done, in the spirit—they would have found out that the true title was coturnix.-Vide Hawker on Shooting,
Now begin the cares and responsibilities of wedded life. Away fly the happy pair to seek some grassy tussock, where, safe from the eye of the hawk, and the nose of the fox, they may rear their expected brood in peace, provident, and not doubting that their espousals will be blessed with a numerous offspring. Oats harvest arrives, and the fields are waving with yellow grain. Now, be wary, oh kind-hearted cradler, and tread not into those pure white eggs ready to burst with life! Soon there is a peeping sound heard, and lo! a proud mother walketh magnificently in the midst of her children, scratching and picking, and teaching them how to swallow. Happy she, if she may be permitted to bring them up to maturity, and uncompelled to renew her joys in another nest.
The assiduities of a mother have a beauty and a sacredness about them that command respect and reverence in all animal nature, human or inhuman—what a lie does that word carry except, perhaps, in monsters, insects, and fish. I never yet heard of the parental tenderness of a trout, eating up his little baby, nor of the filial gratitude of a spider, nipping the life out of his gray-headed father, and usurping his web. But if you would see the purest, the sincerest, the inost affecting piety of a parent's love, startle a young family of quails, and watch the conduct of the mother. She will not leave you. No, not she. But she will fall at your feet, uttering a noise which none but a distressed mother can make, and she will run, and flutter, and seem to try to be caught, and cheat your
outstretched hand, and affect to be wing-broken, and wounded, and yet have just strength to tumble along, until she has drawn you, fatigued, a safe distance from her threatened children, and the young hopes of her heart; and then will she mount, whirring with glad strength, and away through the maze of
have not seen before, like a close-shot bullet, fly to her skulking infants. Listen now. Do
hear those three half-plaintive notes, quickly and clearly poured out ? She is calling the boys and girls together. She sings not now " Bob White !" norah! Bob White!” That is her husband's lovecall, or his trumpet-blast of defiance. But she calls sweetly and softly for her lost children. Hear them “peep! peep! peep!” at the welcome voice of their mother's love! They are coming together. Soon the whole family will meet again. It is a foul sin to disturb them; but retread your devious way, and let her hear your coming footsteps, breaking down the briars, as you renew the danger. She is quiet. Not a word is passed between the fearful fugitives. Now, if you have the heart to do it, lie low, keep still, and imitate the call of the hen-quail. O, mother! mother! how your heart would die if you could witness the deception! The little ones raise up their trembling heads, and catch comfort and imagined safety from the sound. “ Peep! peep!” they come to you, straining their little eyes, and clustering together, and answering, seem
56 Where is she! Mother ! mother! we are here !" I knew an Ethiopian once-he lives yet in a hovel, on the brush plains of Matowacs—who called a whole bevy together in that way. He first shot the parent bird ; and when the murderous villain had ranged them in close company, while they were looking over each other's necks, and mingling their doubts, and hopes, and distresses, in a little circle, he levelled his cursed musket at their unhappy breasts, and butchered
“What! all my pretty ones ! Did you say all ?" He did ; and he lives yet! O, let me not meet that nigger six miles north of Patchogue, in a place where the scrub oaks cover with cavernous gloom a sudden precipice, at whose bottom lies a deep lake, unknown but to the Kwaaek, and the lost deer-hunter. For my soul's sake, let me not encounter him in the grim ravines of the Callicoon, in Sullivan, where the everlasting darkness of the hemlock forests would sanctify virtuous murder !
My farther reflections on this subject, I will keep, for the present, to myself.
The poor quail has to contend with many enemies. Not only with Sir Reynard, who has a constitutional right to levy tribute upon his race, and his several doubtfully-connected, half-starved, brother quadrupedal thieves of the greenwood; not only with the winged pirates of the sky, skimming and sweeping up and down the waving billows of the yellow field, with the quietness and speed of a sudden sun-ray ; not only with the horse-hair nooses of school-boy truants, and the figure-y 4 box-traps of vagabond hen-roost pilferers ; not only with the coarse cupidity of the market-man, who kills all today, and cares not for to-morrow; not only with the mean, falsely called, sportsman, who shoots in season and out of season, and kills for numbers, and not for exercise, skill's sake, and honor; but alas! alas! too often with the bleak and heartless elements themselves! Who does not remember the horrid snows of thirty-six, which filled all the valleys, and raised rival mountains alongside of mountains ! Then died the
The angry clouds at nightfall began to pour out their wind and sleet, but the quail heart had not yet known to fear the skies. Each fated bevy, calling in its straggling supperhunters, tracked its secure path to the bottom of its favorite