In the meantime, my duck was on the other side; I was in my citizen’s clothes.
No solution offered in sight, so I made my way to the left where I could look around the bend. Nearing the bend I was seized with a bright idea. I dropped back below the line of sight, sneaked quietly to the bank, and, my eye almost level with the water, peered down the new vista. Sure enough, not a hundred and fifty yards away floated another band of ducks.
I watched them for a moment until I was sure, by various small landmarks, of their exact location. Then I dropped back far enough so that, even standing erect, I would be below the line of vision of those ducks; strolled along until opposite my landmarks; then, bolt upright, walked directly forward, the gun at ready. When within twenty yards the ducks arose. It was, of course, easy shooting. Both fell across the ditch. That did not worry me; if worst came to worst I could strip and wade.
This seemed to be an exceedingly unique and interesting way to shoot ducks. To be sure, I had only two shells left; but then, it must be almost breakfast time. I repeated the feat a half mile farther on, discovered a flood gate over which I could get to the other side, collected my five ducks, and cut across country to the ranch. The sun was just getting in its work on the frost. Long files of wagons and men could be seen disappearing in the distance. I entered proudly, only ten minutes late.
The family assembled took my statement with extraordinary calm, contenting themselves with a general inquiry as to the species. I was just a trifle crestfallen at this indifference. You see at this time I was not accustomed to the casual duck. My shooting heretofore had been a very strenuous matter. It had involved arising many hours before sun-up, and venturing forth miles into wild marshes; and much endurance of cold and discomfort. To make a bag of any sort we were in the field before the folk knew the night had passed. Upland shooting meant driving long distances, and walking through the heavy hardwood swamps and slashes from dusk to dusk. Therefore I had considered myself in great luck to have blundered upon my ducks so casually; and, furthermore, from the family’s general air of leisure and unpreparedness, jumped to the conclusion that no field sport was projected for that day.
Mrs. Kitty presided beside a copper coffee pot with a bell-shaped glass top. As this was also an institution, it merits attention. A small alcohol lamp beneath was lighted. For a long time nothing happened. Then all at once the glass dome clouded, was filled with frantic brown and racing bubbling. Thereupon the hostess turned over a sand glass. When the last grains had run through, the alcohol lamp was turned off. Immediately the glass dome was empty again. From a spigot one drew off coffee.