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the duke, whom I greatly honour"—the forester
bowed as if the flattering words were addressed
to him, and for this I liked him—"the
duke was no doubt disappointed by the flute,
and vexed by the gentleman in the blue stock,
but I don't find that his vexation carries any
consequences. These very people who visit your
crags and strew the ground with sandwich papers,
find their way into his private gardens, stare at
him as he gets into his carriage, make profound
bows to him when he passes and they know his
person; he has no privacy because he likes to
see humankind contented and happy around
him. So you see he has made up his mind to
let them have their way, and he is right, for
though you won't find many people in the
grounds of a Scotch duke, you will also not
find the said Scotch duke's name generally
mentioned with any great degree of reverence.
So if there is a little worse sport, there is more
of the milk of human kindness, and that is a
thing not to be despised."

"Sir," quoth the forester, "I admit that
what you say is not devoid of truth, but you
would sigh with me if you recollected the
good old times, when paternal ideas of government
had the assent and reverence of the
peasants; when game was numerous, and nothing
was heard of the new-fangled ideas now
common. The farmers, some centuries ago, had
been confirmed in the possession of their holdings,
on the express condition that game should
be respected everywhere. They gained perpetual
possessions for a consideration which
they now repudiate. That detestable period of
'48 has put such notions into their heads, that
even now they pretend to the right of killing the
game which comes on their land, because they
say the deer eat their corn and potatoes; they
knowing all the time that if they come to the
duke and say, 'My potatoes are disappearing,'
he comes out and shoots the offensive animal,
and there is an end of the matter. Ah, you
should see the funny old pictures which hung in
the passages of the schloss close by; the quaint
way in which scenes familiar to me since my
childhood are depicted, and the old inscriptions
which explain the painter's subject: saying that
on such a day, in the sixteenth century, his serene
highness went out with the dukes and duchesses,
his high-born guests, and shot seventeen stags,
fifteen dams, twenty-five calves, thirty roebucks
and twenty roes, and how many more wild
animals it is impossible to say. Those were,
indeed, days when game was abundant, and
shooting was a pleasure! There were severe
laws against killing deer, just as there now
are in Courland against killing elk, and in
Poland against taking the life of the gigantic
bison. It was part of the condition on which
the peasants held their land, that they should
keep the forest stalls filled with hay in winter,
that the game might have wherewithal to live in
the hard frosty months. There, at daybreak in
the cold mornings, might be seen numbers of
stags and deer of every kind, clustered at the
feeding places, enjoying the bountiful supply
so carefully placed at their disposal; then, when
they had had their fill, dashing out into the
snow-clad woods again, and clattering through
the silvery glades. You can see the sight now,
it is true, but how much less numerous are the
deer; how much less noble! Cultivation has extended
and forests have receded, and as the woods
grow smaller, so seem to grow the antlers of the
royal stag. It is, indeed, a regal pastime now,
for the duke is obliged to feed the deer himself,
and that's no light burden on his purse. Then
again, when the fine summer days came, and
the west wind sighed through the noble silver
pines, the guests congregated in the pleasant summer
schloss, and the hunting arsenal was opened
out. At night the peasants, led by the experienced
foresters, drove the woods in circles,
so that the deer were brought in troops within
a given space. A wall of liners, stretched between
poles, was struck round a circumference
of about two miles. A large tent was erected
in the centre glade, where seats and standing
room were provided for the duke and his guests
to shoot from. A second tent was arranged for
the ladies who came as spectators; a third for
the cooks. Tables were set in the open air for
a noon dinner. Casks of beer were brought in
numbers to the ground. Such shooting, eating,
and drinking, was never seen elsewhere. For,
at nine o'clock the duke and his guests would
arrive, drawn in large carriages, the like of which
you don't see now-a-dayscarriages shaped as
the round-sterned boats I have seen on some
canals, painted of bright blue and red colour,
with awnings stretched over them. The ladies
rode to the meet, in palanquins, harnessed to
poles in front and rear: each horse ridden by a
postilion, whose heavy knotted whip cracked
gaily in the morning air. Then, the ladies took
their seats, the gentlemen their stations. At a
given signal, the drivers, distributed around the
outer circumference of the space, set up wild
shouts as they drew in towards the centre, the
fusees and arquebuses of the guests cracked
quickly, as the noble stags, with antlers thrown
back and necks extended, careered away across
the glade. Then came the liveried retainers,
with daggers at their sides, whose duty it was
to despatch the wounded, and direct their assistants
where to lay the game in rows. These
carried the deer in stretchers of net, brought
them to the scales, and weighed them; and great
was the honour for him who had shot a stag of
twenty-four, or a stag whose weight exceeded four
hundred pounds. Then, sometimes, a wild boar
or two would be found in the enclosure, and it
was a strange and exciting scene to witness
the dire fights which took place between the
stags and them; the former would attack with
his antlers; the latter with his tusks; they
fell and bled in turns, till one of the high-born
gentlemen came out with a spear, and put an
end to the life of bothnot without personal
danger. But, sir," continued the forester,
with a sigh, "these days are long gone by;
the hunting arsenal is still thereyou may see
its roof amongst the pinesbut it is never