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retrieved, and Tertius was already fumbling in his pocket for the wherewithal to reward the Deus ex machind, when
"There!" exclaimed the man, laying out the last bird, "and now I'll trouble you for your names and addresses, or you shall come along with me. Who are you, I'd like to know, to come and shoot my partridges?"
"Your partridges?" Tableau! The rest of the interview may be left to the imagination. The finale was that the keeper took their cards and seemed so far to accept their explanation and apologies as to promise to pass them on with the cards to his master's agent. An offer of the dead birds he most steadily and to my thinking most unaccountably declined, declaring that they were valueless to him when dead, though alive they had been worth their weight in gold. Whether it was that he subsequently repented of the refusal, or that brooding over what was undoubtedly a very serious loss brought him to a wholly uncharitable frame of mind, I cannot pretend to decide. But according to the agent, who on the strength of his representations instantly applied for summonses against the offenders, he depicted Tertius and the inquisitive one as ill-conditioned and insolent poachers who had carried off the dead game vi et armis. The agent, however, when interviewed, proved more amenable to reason, and finding that he had to do with two courteous gentlemen who had erred in all innocence, con
sented to withdraw the summonses on the understanding that a modest contribution was given to the local poor - box. Curiously enough, on the one hand, the stipulated sum was considerably less than the market value of the dead partridges. On the other hand, in our annoyance over the incident, we temporarily lost sight of the fact that the fifteen birds, which our landlord annexed as a matter of course, most certainly did not belong to him, but ought to have gone to the agent.
I will add that up to a certain point one and all of our party were certainly in sympathy with the gamekeeper's feelings. True, he put himself out of court by wantonly perverting the true facts of the case; but a good deal of allowance must be made for a man who by dint of good watching had kept a covey of partridges intact up to the middle of January, when their harbourage lay in such close proximity to a kill-everything-you-see sort of shooting. It must have been gall and wormwood to the man's feelings to see his treasured breeding-stock practically wiped out. Nor again had we any reason for doubting the agent's version of the state of affairs, when he told us that our landlord had earned an evil reputation as a notorious grabber of odd lots of shooting which either intersected marched side by side with various proprietors' preserves. Though it was impolitic to say so at the time, I thought then and still think that even in our
particular instance the agent erred on the side of leniency. A less courteous but perhaps wiser man would have laid down for himself a hard-andfast rule of prosecuting with the utmost rigour of the law every single instance of conscious or unconscious poaching. For the sooner that a shooting-hotel run under these conditions is brought into thoroughly bad odour with the general public, the better for all parties except the hotel proprietor. Rough shooting in a wild district is an intelligible and attractive form of sport; yet the destruction of a neighbour's hand-reared birds in the course of their passage from one covert to another may be legal, but most certainly is neither equitable nor sportsmanlike. Wholesale prosecution, though now and again liable to bear hardly upon individuals, seems to me, as the law stands now, to be the only method of preventing an irremediable form of iniquity.
I regret to record that our air-and-exercise member, in the brief interval between the service of the summons and the interview with the agent, did not adopt an entirely sympathetic attitude towards the two companions in adversity. Not being himself exactly particeps criminis, and having therefore a conscience void of offence, he met all attempts to discuss future plans-for we had promptly determined to save our reputation by changing quarters with sinister suggestions of the uncertainties
of English law as administered by local magistrates.
"We can't quite depend, George, on having our whist if these other fellows get, as they seem to have a very good chance of getting, a fortnight with 'hard.' What rot these game laws are, and what a blethering idiot is William,— if it was William's fault, I mean."
And then he would amuse himself by speculating_on the probable appearance of Tertius, who was bearded like a pard, when he "came out out" closecropped and clean-shaven.
"Anyway, if they don't shave you, old chap, they'll crop it a bit, for fear that the ends might get hitched up in the 'mill.' Merciful men are merciful to their beasts, and draw the line at either muzzling the ox that treadeth out the corn or pulling off the beard of a fellow who is doing time on the mill."
He affected to be rather scandalised than otherwise when, thanks to the agent's courtesy, the plea of ignorance secured the withdrawal of the summonses, and he talked a lot about William's injured innocence, the agent's willingness to compound a felony, and the undeserved good - luck of the poachers. "But, after all," as Tertius sagely remarked, "what could be expected of a man who was caught napping without any cartridges in his gun at the moment when a large flock of golden plover flew whistling over his head!"
(To be continued.)
TO A FAT PIG.
WHEN I peruse that tranquil countenance,
When I compare the lives that men endure,
Unbroken, save for meals;
Stirred to the limits of mine injured pride
O Hog, O fat, insufferable Hog,
The very barn-door hen must ply a leg Or go unvictualled; even the household dog Has to sit up and beg.
Judged by your smug complacency, you seem
You never move. For your voracious need Mysterious broths are brought you from afar; Strange messes coax you if you're off your feed (Not that you ever are!);
The great trough yawns beneath your very snout; You eat, you sleep, upon the selfsame spot;
People object to see you move about,
They'd rather you did not.
O Hog, so unsuspecting and so fat,
Do you suppose that these attentions spring From Man's great kindness? If you swallow that, You'd swallow anything.
Oft have I noticed, hovering round the sty
Where you, unknowing, snore in Morpheus' arms, A gross, red man, who, with an owner's eye, Approves your bulging charms.
Darkly he prods you with his oaken staff
O Hog, so fat, so green, did you awake
You would sleep less, methinks, but you would take
A deal more exercise.
BY ONE LONG RESIDENT IN THE NEAR EAST.
THE troubles in Macedonia have dragged on so long that the general public in England has almost lost sight of the main issues which gave rise to them, and only vaguely appreciates the internal causes which have rendered a solution so difficult and so slow. The agitation was first planned in Bulgaria. Its avowed object was to force the European Powers to intervene in favour of the Christians in Macedonia, in the hope that such an intervention would lead to the annexation of Macedonia to Bulgaria, just as Eastern Roumelia had already been annexed in 1886. To this end, armed bands were formed in Bulgaria, who crossed the frontier to induce the peasants in Macedonia to rise in revolt. Arms and ammunition had been ingeniously procured by the capture of an American lady - missionary and the encashment of a ransom of £12,000 for her release. The Christian peasants who sympathised with Bulgaria welcomed the insurgent bands, but took little part in the fighting which the invasion provoked. They were, however, sufficiently terrorised to be led, in some cases willingly, in others forcibly, to contribute to the treasury of the Bulgarian insurgents. Bravely the Bulgarian bands, in in scattered groups of a few hundreds each, fought the Turkish soldiers,
VOL. CLXXVIII. -NO. MLXXIX.
but their courageous efforts were in vain against the far more numerous and better appointed Turkish battalions. There was about equal slaughter on both sides, but while the loss of a few hundreds scarcely affected the strength of the Turks, it seriously crippled the small bands of the insurgents. The struggle was hopelessly unequal. The peasants, although they took small part in the fighting, found their position seriously compromised with their rulers, and fled in crowds from their homes, crossing the frontier into Bulgaria for safety. Their lot was a hard one. The excitement caused in Bulgaria by the influx of these homeless and helpless refugees was great, and for a time there was a danger that the little Principality would have forced upon it a war with Turkey, which might have imperilled its own existence. Wiser counsels, however, prevailed, and when the European Powers decided to intervene diplomatically to improve the lot of the Macedonian Christians, the Bulgarian Government judiciously left the complicated situation in the hands of the Powers. Such is the position to-day. A few bands of Bulgarian insurgents still exist, and from time to time continue to make raids into Macedonia, but the Government of the Principality, as a 2 B