One day Uncle Jim came after me afoot, with the quiet assurance that he knew where there were “some ducks.”
“Tommy is down there now,” said he, “in a blind. We’ll make a couple more blinds across the pond, and in that way one or the other of us is sure to get a shot at everything that comes in. And the way they’re coming in is scand’lous!”
Therefore I filled my pockets with duck shells, seized my close-choked 12-bore, and followed Uncle Jim. We walked across three fields.
“Those ducks are acting mighty queer,” proffered Uncle Jim in puzzled tones.
We stopped a moment to watch. Flock after flock stooped toward the little pond, setting their wings and dropping with the extraordinary confidence wildfowl sometimes exhibit. At a certain point, however, and while still at a good elevation, they towered swiftly and excitedly.
“Doesn’t seem like they’d act so scared even if Tommy wasn’t well hid,” puzzled Uncle Jim.
We proceeded cautiously, keeping out of sight behind some greasewood, until we could see the surface of the pond. There were Tommy’s decoys, and there was Tommy’s blind. We could not see but that it was a well-made blind. Even as we looked another flock of sprig sailed down wind, stopped short at a good two hundred yards, towered with every appearance of lively dismay, and departed. Tommy’s head came above the blind, gazing after them.
“They couldn’t act worse if Tommy was out waving his hat at ’em,” said Uncle Jim.
We climbed a fence. This brought us to a slight elevation, but sufficient to enable us to see abroad over the flat landscape.
Immediately beyond Tommy was a long, low irrigation check grown with soft green sod. On the farther slope thereof were the girls. They had brought magazines and fancy work, and evidently intended to spend the afternoon in the open, enjoying the fresh air and the glad sunshine and the cheerful voices of God’s creatures. They were, of course, quite unconscious of Tommy’s sporting venture not a hundred feet away. Their parasols were green, red, blue, and other explosive tints.
Uncle Jim and I sat for a few moments on the top of that fence enjoying the view. Then we climbed softly down and went away. We decided tacitly not to shoot ducks. The nature of the expedition immediately changed. We spent the rest of the afternoon on quail. To be sure number-five shot in a close-choked twelve is not an ideal load for the purpose; but by care in letting our birds get far enough away we managed to have a very good afternoon’s sport. And whenever we would make a bad miss we had ready consolation: the thought of Tommy waiting and wondering and puzzling in his blind.
THE GRAND TOUR