Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/65

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


know too when I start out and when I give up and make for cover.”

“Go slow, Brierley; go slow!”

“Of course they know, Louis!” retorted Brierley in mock dejection. “Doesn’t a crow keep a watch out for the flock? Can you get near one of them with a gun unless you are lucky enough to shoot the sentry first? You can call it instinct if you choose—I call it reason—the same kind of mental process that compels you to look out for an automobile before you cross the street, with your eyes both ways at once. When you talk of their helplessness and want of common sense, and inability to look out for themselves, you had better lie under a hedge as I have done, the briars scraping your neck, or scrunched down in a duckblind, with your feet in ice water, and study these simple-minded creatures. Explain this if you can. Some years ago, in America, I spent the autumn on the Housatonic River. The ducks come in from Long Island Sound to feed on the shore stuff, and I could sometimes get five—once I got eleven—between dawn and sunrise. The constant banging away soon made them so shy that if I got five in a week I was lucky. On the first of the month and for the first time in