We all roared with laughter except Romer. His interest had been so all-absorbing, his excitement so great, and his faith in the story-teller so reverential that at first he could not grasp the trick at the end of the story. His face was radiant, his eyes were dark and dilated. When the truth dawned upon him, amaze and disappointment changed his mobile face, and then came mirth. He shouted as if to the tree-tops on high. Long after he was in bed I heard him laughing to himself.
I was awakened a little after daylight by the lad trying to get into his boots. His boots were rather tight, and somehow, even in a dry forest, he always contrived to get them wet, so that in the morning it was a herculean task for him to pull them on. This occasion appeared more strenuous than usual. “Son, what’s the idea?” I inquired. “It’s just daylight—not time to get up.” He desisted from his labors long enough to pant: “Uncle Rome’s—gone after turkeys. Edd’s going to—call them with—a caller—made out of a turkey’s wing-bone.” And I said: “But they’ve gone now.” Whereupon he subsided: “Darned old boots! I heard Edd and Uncle Rome. I’d been ready if I could have got into my darned old boots.... See here, Dad, I’m gonna wear moccasins.”
As we were sitting round the camp-fire, eating breakfast, R.C. and Edd returned; and R.C. carried a turkey gobbler the very size and color of the one I had shot the night before. R.C.’s face wore the keen, pleased expression characteristic of it when he had just had some unusual and satisfying experience.
[Illustration: Zane grey on Don Carlos]
[Illustration: Wild turkey]
“Sure was great,” he said, warming his hands at the fire. “We went up on the hill where you killed your gobbler last night. Got there just in the gray light of dawn. We were careful not to make any noise. Edd said if there were any more turkeys they would come down at daylight. So we waited until it was light enough to see. Then Edd got out his turkey bone and began to call. Turkeys answered from the trees all around. By George, it was immense! Edd had picked out a thicket of little pines for us to hide in, and in front of us was a glade with a big fallen tree lying across it. Edd waited a few moments. The woods was all gray and quiet. I don’t know when I’ve felt so good. Then he called again. At once turkeys answered from all around in the trees. Next I heard a swish of wings, then a thump. Then more swishes. The turkeys were flying down from their roosts. It seemed to me in my excitement that there were a hundred of them. We could hear them pattering over the dry ground. Edd whispered: ’They’re down. Now we got to do some real callin’.’ I felt how tense, how cautious he was. When he called again there was some little difference, I don’t know what, unless