All these disappointments had been petty, yet sore grievances to the Squire, and had made him to despond about success. He has lately, however, been made happy by the receipt of a fine Welsh falcon, which Master Simon terms a stately high-flyer. It is a present from the Squire’s friend, Sir Watkyn Williams Wynne; and is, no doubt, a descendant of some ancient line of Welsh princes of the air, that have long lorded it over their kingdom of clouds, from Wynnstay to the very summit of Snowden, or the brow of Penmanmawr.
Ever since the Squire received this invaluable present, he has been as impatient to sally forth and make proof of it, as was Don Quixote to assay his suit of armour. There have been some demurs as to whether the bird was in proper health and training; but these have been overruled by the vehement desire to play with a new toy; and it has been determined, right or wrong, in season or out of season, to have a day’s sport in hawking to-morrow.
The Hall, as usual, whenever the Squire is about to make some new sally on his hobby, is all agog with the thing. Miss Templeton, who is brought up in reverence for all her guardian’s humours, has proposed to be of the party; and Lady Lillycraft has talked also of riding out to the scene of action and looking on. This has gratified the old gentleman extremely; he hails it as an auspicious omen of the revival of falconry, and does not despair but the time will come when it will be again the pride of a fine lady to carry about a noble falcon, in preference to a parrot or a lap-dog.
I have amused myself with the bustling preparations of that busy spirit, Master Simon, and the continual thwartings he receives from that genuine son of a pepper-box, old Christy. They have had half-a-dozen consultations about how the hawk is to be prepared for the morning’s sport. Old Nimrod, as usual, has always got in a pet, upon which Master Simon has invariably given up the point, observing, in a good-humoured tone, “Well, well, have it your own way, Christy; only don’t put yourself in a passion;” a reply which always nettles the old man ten times more than ever.
The soaring hawk, from fist that flies,
Her falconer doth constrain
Some times to range the ground about
To find her out again;
And if by sight or sound of bell,
His falcon he may see,
Wo ho! he cries, with cheerful voice—
The gladdest man is he.
—Handful of Pleasant Delites.
At an early hour this morning, the Hall was in a bustle preparing for the sport of the day. I heard Master Simon whistling and singing under my window at sunrise, as he was preparing the jesses for the hawk’s legs, and could distinguish now and then a stanza of one of his favourite old ditties:
“In peascod time, when hound to
Gives note that buck be kill’d;
And little boy, with pipe of corn,
Is tending sheep a-field,” &c.