They Could Not See Him
Approach; And The Ball, If It Missed, Did No Damage, Being Caught As In A
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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