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in hosts as at their flight-time, but in trips of ten, thirty, or forty together, as the case may be. This means mixed fowl, including ducks and the henfooted things, the heron, and others, down to the dunlin or oxbird.
Although the marsh where our two friends had leave to shoot was not itself under process of drainage, the surrounding grazing-grounds were ; and as gun licences were then not even dreamed of, every man in each company of a dozen drainers—some of the shore - shooters even had been obliged to turn to that work as a means of living-carried a gun, or rather had one close at hand, to use as the chance offered. Denzil saw the stock part of some of these peeping outside the rough jackets that had been laid down on the dry flags, the long barrels being concealed inside the drain-pipes.
“Many turns like this would give a fellow the blues,” said Larry, as they fired off their loads in the air before being ferried over the creek. “With all this draining we may just hang up the guns as fireside ornaments."
And so it was ; for as the railroads gave facility for placing product in the London markets and elsewhere, cement-works, wharves, and ship-yards appeared along the water-side, as though by magic it seemed to the slow thinking and acting graziers, and old marsh dwellers ; and in the spots where at one time the silence had been broken only by the cry of the wild-fowl, rang out the clink and hum of machinery and the clang of hammers, the fowl having flitted for good.
All pleasant things come to an end, however-perhaps it is owing to this fact that they seem so very pleasant to us, often ; and Den had to turn his back on fun and frolic and the joys of renewed friendships, and to return to his work among Surrey hills and woods. “Good-bye, Den, prosperity go with you!” said Larry, as the pair, so strongly united both by the ties of relationship and their mutual love of nature, grasped each other's hands. “Come back soon; that heron will remain where it is as long as we live, but I need no reminder of you, old fellow. When you come next, bring your wife with you; you are not the sort to go through life long alone.”
It was, as Larry predicted, not long before Denzil married, and his choice proved a very happy one. He married, as his father did before him, “to please himself,” and his wife was one who could not only understand and sympathise with him in his tastes, but who was as fond of the creatures as he was himself. When he saw her surrounded by the wild things he brought home with him, the reserved, selfcontained lines of his face would relax and soften, and he looked, what he called himself, “well content.” To her, he always said, he owed the development of the better part of his nature; she was his best friend as well as his wife. To her alone he fully unbent, and he gave her his perfect confidence. She was well worthy of it, too, as all his friends knew.
After the day's toil, with pen and pencil, he continued the studies of his youth; and all his leisure time was devoted to one purpose-namely, the endeavour to know and understand the creatures that our Father above has created to share His beautiful world with ourselves.