Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The quantity of ground thus swept is astonishing; and so completely has it been cleared, that the gleaner who might follow in their rear would find his labour completely lost.

9. On such occasions, when the woods are filled with these pigeons, they are killed in immense numbers, although no apparent diminution ensues. About the middle of the day, after their repast is finished, they settle on the trees to enjoy rest and digest their food. As the sun begins to sink beneath the horizon, they départ en masse for the roosting-place, which not unfrequently is hundreds of miles distant, as has been ascertained by persons who have kept an account of their arrivals and departures.

10. Let us now inspect their place of nightly rendezvous. One of these curious roosting-places, on the banks of the Green River, in Kentucky, I repeatedly visited. It was, as is always the case, in a portion of the forest where the trees were of great magnitude, and where there was little underwood. I rode through it upwards of forty miles, and, crossing it in different parts, found its average breadth to be rather more than three miles. My first view of it was about a fortnight subsequent to the period when they had made choice of it, and I arrived there nearly two hours before sunset.

11. Many trees, two feet in diameter, I observed, were broken off at no great distance from the ground ; and the branches of many of the largest and tallest had given way, as if the forest had been swept by a tornado. Everything proved to me that the number of birds resorting to this part of the forest must be immense beyond conception.

12. As the period of their arrival approached, their

[ocr errors]

foes anxiously prepared to receive them. Some were furnished with iron pots containing sulphur, others with torches of pine knots, many with poles, and the rest with guns. The sun was lost to our view, yet not a pigeon had arrived. Everything was ready, and all eyes were gazing on the clear sky, which appeared in glimpses amidst the tall trees. Suddenly there burst forth the general cry of, 'Here they come!'

13. The noise which they made, though yet distant, reminded me of a hard gale at sea passing through the rigging of a close-reefed vessel. As the birds arrived and passed over me, I felt a current of air that surprised me. Thousands were soon knocked down by the pole men. The birds continued to pour in. The fires were lighted, and a magnificent as well as wonderful and almost terrifying sight presented itself.

14. The pigeons, arriving by thousands, alighted everywhere, one above another, until solid masses, as large as hogsheads, were formed on the branches all round. Here and there the perches gave way under the weight with a crash, and falling to the ground, destroyed hundreds of the birds beneath, forcing down the dense groups with which every stick was loaded. It was a scene of uproar and confusion. I found it quite useless to speak or even to shout to those persons who were nearest to me. Even the reports of the guns were seldom heard, and I was made aware of the firing only by seeing the shooters reloading.

15. The uproar continued the whole night; and as I was anxious to know to what distance the sound reached, I sent off a man, accustomed to traverse the forest, who, returning two hours afterwards, informed me he had heard it distinctly when three

J

miles distant from the spot. Towards the approach of day, the noise in some measure subsided; long before objects were distinguishable, the pigeons began to move off in a direction quite different from that in which they had arrived the evening before, and at sunrise all that were able to fly had disappeared. Audubon.

some

cir'-cum-stan-ces im-mense'

en-tice

as-certained in-clined

neigh'-bour-hood ap-pear'-ance mag-ni'-fi-cent as-sure

con-se-quent-ly con-tin'-u-al-ly ter'-ri-fy-ing pro-ceed'-ed un'-du-lat-ing suc-ces'-sion ar-riv-ing tend' en-cy

de-scend'-ed oc-ca'-sions con-fu'-sion re-late', tell.

sim-ul-tan'-e-ous-ly, all at the same a-maze'-ment, wonder.

time. O-hi'-o, a river of America, which an-on', very soon; immediately. flows into the Mississippi.

in-dus'-tri-ous-ly, diligently. in-clin-a'-tion, desire.

quest, search. em'-in-ence, height.

mast, the fruit of the oak, beech, ob-scured', darkened.

or chestnut. e-clipse', the darkening of the light ap-par'-ent dim-in-u'-tion, noticeof the sun, moon, or stars, by able lessening.

other heavenly body hor-i'-zon, the line where the earth coming between it and the and sky seem to meet. observer.

en masse, in a body; all together. re-pose', rest; sleep.

sub'-se-quent, afterwards. con'-flu-ence, the flowing together, di-am'-e-ter, measure through or

or place of meeting of two
rivers.

tor-na'-do, violent storm of wind. in-ef-fec'-tu-al, of no use; powerless. con-cop-tion, thinking about. re-ports', sound of a gun being fired. close-reefed' ves'-sel; the sails of a aër'-i-al e-vol-u'-tions, movements ship are close-reefed' when in the air.

portions of them are rolled or Ve-lo'-ci-ty, swiftness.

folded up to escape the vioper-pen-dio'-u-lar-ly, straight up

lence of the wind. and down.

sub-sid'-ed, lessened. az-ure, blue like a cloudless sky. dis-tin'-guish-a-ble, easily seen.

EXERCISES.—1. The Saxon prefix fore- means before ; as foresee, to see before ; foretell, to tell before.

2. Analyse and parse the following: 'As soon as the pigeons discover food enough to entice them to alight, they fly round in circles, reviewing the country below.'

3. Make sentences of your own, and use in each one or more of the following words : Obscure, repose, subsequent, subside.

across.

FITZ-JAMES AND RODERICK DHU_I. [This extract is from Scott's well-known poem, The Lady of the Lake. James V. of Scotland has been out hunting, under the name of Fitz-James, in the region around Loch Katrine in Perthshire. He is separated from his followers, and loses himself among the mountains ; but meets Roderick Dhu, a Highland chief and rebel, who offers to conduct him part of the way back to Stirling. The Highland chieftain calls up some of his clansmen, in order to show what the fate of Fitz-James would have been without his guidance and protection.] 1. So toilsome was the road to trace,

The guide, abating of his pace,
Led slowly through the pass's jaws,
And asked Fitz-James by what strange cause
He sought these wilds, traversed by few,

Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.
2. 'Brave Gael, my pass, in danger tried,

Hangs in my belt and by my side;
Yet, sooth to tell,' the Saxon said,
'I dreamt not now to claim its aid.
When here, but three days since, I came,
Bewildered in pursuit of game,
All seemed as peaceful and as still
As the mist slumbering on yon hill;
Thy dangerous chief was then afar,
Nor soon expected back from war.
Thus said, at least, my mountain-guide,

Though deep, perchance, the villain lied.'
3. Yet why a second venture try?'

A warrior thou, and ask me why!
Moves our free course by such fixed cause
As gives the poor mechanic laws ?
Enough, I sought to drive away
The lazy hours of peaceful day:

Slight cause will then suffice to guide
A knight's free footsteps far and wide-
A falcon flown, a greyhound strayed,
The merry glance of mountain maid;
Or, if a path be dangerous known,
The danger's self is lure alone.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

4. 'Thy secret keep: I urge thee not;

Yet, ere again ye sought this spot,
Hadst thou sent warning fair and true-
“I seek my hound or falcon strayed,
I seek, good faith, a Highland maid”-
Free hadst thou been to come and go;
But secret path marks secret foe.'

[ocr errors]

5. 'Well, let it pass; nor will I now

Fresh cause of enmity avow,
To chafe thy mood and cloud thy brow:
Enough, I am by promise tied
To match me with this man of pride.
Twice have I sought Clan-Alpine's glen
In peace; but when I come again,
I come with banner, brand, and bow,
As leader seeks his mortal foe.
For love-lorn swain in lady's bower
Ne'er panted for the appointed hour
As I, until before me stand
This rebel chieftain and his band.'

6. Have, then, thy wish!' He whistled shrill,

And he was answered from the hill:
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
From crag to crag the signal flew.
Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets and spears and bended bows;

« ZurückWeiter »