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Woodland Archery
Part 5 of 6

"Well, well, well!" he cried in a sepulchral bass chest-tone. "Here you are at last. Heard of you and have been beating all creation roundabout to find you. You're a sly one. How are you anyhow?

"The Judge proved deceptive. He turned out to be an angel of entertaining and helpful qualities. After that morning my note-book is well sprinkled with approving references to him and admiring quotations from the body of his talk. He was an old-time Southern scholar, a sportsman of mediæval capacities, an incomparable story-teller, a lover of poetry, and a judge of edibles, potations and tobacco. Instead of interfering in the least with my archery and bird studies, he abetted me at all points, and entered straightway into the spirit of it all.

One great fault the Judge made the most of by night. He snored prodigiously with a jarring, threatening, exasperating multiformity of notes. He slept beside me, the genial, grizzly old giant, and I cat-napped as best I could, trusting to the luck of falling unconscious between snorts. His better nocturnal peculiarity was, when I did get to sleep, awaking me to tell me a side-splitting anecdote he happened to think of. I had to laugh while at the same time I was almost provoked to physical violence against him. Next morning I would gladly forgive him, and make in my note-book an entry like this:
   "Judge— beats all men as a tenting companion. Had breakfast ready cooked when I awoke an hour after sun-up. He had caught nine little sun-perch in the brook pools and broiled them, baked some eggs on a hotrock, and served roasted potatoes with them. ‘Sleepy-head,' he cried, ‘you've lost a wholehour's sport in the flower of the morning! I heard squirrels chattering all around. 'He looks like an atrophied Hercules.

"Like every other man who has ever come within range of my bow, the stalwart old Judge got deeply fascinated with archery. He took sharp delight from every shot he saw me do. He followed close at my heels when I was sneaking to get within range of some wild thing I wished to bag. When I drew up my bow he stood rigid his eyes fixed upon the mark. If I hit he fell into a puerile ecstasy of noisy approval. If I missed he grunted disappointment. He was curious to hear the sound of an arrow passing close to him, and to this end he lay down behind a log on the top of which, in a knot-hole, he had stuck a sassafras wand for me to shoot at. When presently one of my shafts glanced from this slender target and whacked down close beside him, he sprang up excited and gesticulating. "Hey, there!" he yelled. "Stop that! None of your fool tricks! "His whole expression was ludicrous in the extreme, and he made nimble, albeit awkward, haste to move away from the log. But, to get back to my bird-notes by the shortest route, I will cull from entries made during the last three days of my stay. In choosing from them for the present need I prefer those containing records of what I saw and heard and did, notwithstanding a strong temptation to air some of my reflections and fine writing.

"At about four P.M. I was squatting between a black oak and a dense clump of low bushes, spying upon a yellow-billed cuckoo which was in a little, low tree. A scuffling sound in the last year's fall of leaves near me drew my eye upon a large, black snake. It had something in its mouth. A sharper scrutiny discovered that this something was a quail half swallowed. Snake measured, when killed, five feet, as near as I could guess. Quail had been crushed to a pulpy state.