Many a time when I have landed from my boat very tired, after a long cruise or fishing expedition, I have always found “Begum” waiting for me, ready to fetch “Eddy,” at my word, to help to beach the boat and carry my gear up the cliff. This used to be of such frequent occurrence that upon the end of the boat’s painter I worked a kind of collar for “Eddy” to pull upon in comfort. This collar I made of old sacking sewed over with sennet, and I must say it was quite a success, for he would hold his head out as naturally to receive the collar as a beggar would hold out his hat for the reception of an alms.
The pigeons I brought with me and placed in the cote or tower soon departed or died; possibly they were killed by hawks or other birds, but that I never could discover. Anyway, the tower was not long tenantless, for a pair of owls took up their abode there, and soon had a family of six fluffy little fellows. Instead of destroying these birds as many persons do in England, I allowed them to haunt the tower, in return for which they kept the mice down, and I could not find that they did me any kind of damage. I got quite to like their “to-whitting” and “to-wooing” more than the monotonous “cooing” of the pigeons which never did sound like music to my ears.
My six hens and a cockerel were located in the watch-house, from whence they had the run of a large piece of wild ground overhanging the cliff. Eggs I had in abundance, and even to spare, and before I left the island had over thirty fowls. Beside the fowls’ eggs I could, in the spring, gather the eggs of the wild fowl inhabiting the islands by the score.
Enough of animals and birds; let us open another chapter on another topic.
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CANOEING—FISH OF THE PLACE—THE ORMER AND LIMPET—A CURIOUS FISHING ADVENTURE—QUEER CAPTURES FROM THE SEA—ROCK FISH—CONSTRUCT A FISH-POND AND WATER-MILL.
When the warm days and calm seas of May came I turned my thoughts to the sea, of which I am passionately fond, and of which one never seemed to tire, as one does of tame river water. Unfortunately my only vessel was a canoe about fourteen feet long by three feet beam, and for sea work, such as one gets round the shores of these islands, quite unfitted; but there it was, and I had simply Hobson’s choice—that or none.
On a calm sea, with a tide running only one way, such as one gets on the English coast, the canoe was all very well and fairly safe; but here, through the Percee, as the channel is called between Herm and Jethou, the tide at times runs with great speed, and meeting with the resistance of the Ferriers and other huge rocks, whirls, and turns, and foams in all directions, so that a frail craft like a canoe would be a death-trap to anyone foolhardy enough to venture out in it. That being the case, I could only follow my canoeing hobby when the sea was calm, but even then did not venture far from land.