Field And Hedgerow By Richard Jefferies




























































































 -  They could not see him
approach; and the ball, if it missed, did no damage, being caught as in a - Page 350
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They Could Not See Him Approach; And The Ball, If It Missed, Did No Damage, Being Caught As In A Bowl.

Rifles in England, even when their range is but a hundred yards or so, are not to be used without caution.

Some one may be in the hedge nutting, or a labourer may be eating his luncheon in the shelter; it is never possible to tell who may be behind the screen of brambles through which the bullet slips so easily. Into these hollows Martin could shoot with safety. As for the squire, he did not approve of rifles. He adhered to his double-barrel; and if a buck had to be killed, he depended on his smoothbore to carry a heavy ball forty yards with fair accuracy. The fawns were knocked over with a wire cartridge unless Mr. Martin was in the way - he liked to try a rifle. Even in summer the old squire generally had his double-barrel with him - perhaps he might come across a weasel, or a stoat, or a crow. That was his excuse; but, in fact, without a gun the woods lost half their meaning to him. With it he could stand and watch the buck grazing in the glade, or a troop of fawns - sweet little creatures - so demurely feeding down the grassy slope from the beeches. Already at midsummer the nuts were full formed on the beeches; the green figs, too, he remembered were on the old fig-tree trained against the warm garden wall.

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