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captive, hoping to find the wretch dead, but instead of that I found it still alive and struggling in extreme agony. Though the stench was nearly suffocating I resolved upon putting an end to its sufferings, but it was not until I had dealt it several heavy blows on the head with a stout limb of the prostrate tree that I succeeded in depriving it of life.
I had now certainly achieved the victory over the obnoxious animal, but my fishing-rod had to be free'd of its incumbrance, and, if possible, of the infernal odour that I was conscious it would have imbibed. The first part was easily managed; but notwithstanding all the washing, and rubbing, and scrubbing that I could possibly bestow upon my rod, it still savoured so strong of the skunk's essence bag, that I loathed to handle it, and the anticipated sport and pleasure of the day were regularly blighted.
At the time of my adventure with the skunk I still had my lunch in my pocket, carefully packed up, and which principally consisted, I believe, of ham-sandwiches: so when I had finished the affray, and cleansed my hands from all pollution, as much as I was able with the assistance of plenty of pure water, gravel, sand, &c., I repaired to a considerable distance from the scene of action in order the better to enjoy my repast. But so powerfully, nay extraordinarily, were the sandwiches impregnated with the vile insinuating skunky particles that I found it utterly impossible to swallow a single morsel; so there remained for me no other resource but that of making the best of my way home, not only disappointed, but hungry and vexed into the bargain.
I once owned a dog that would run the trail of a skunk provided it were not too fresh, or, in other words, that the game were sufficiently a-head; but on no occasion would he attempt to come to close quarters. One day I was out in the woods accompanied by this dog, when I happened to get a shot at one of these animals as it was crossing a small open space between two thickets. Although the shot struck it hard, it did not bring it down, so I tried to prevail upon my dog to complete the business. I am rather disposed to think that at the first he was not aware of the nature of the game, for he made up boldly towards it; but no sooner did the wounded animal perceive this than it made directly towards the dog, when the latter, getting a distinct view of his antagonist, wheeled round, his tail down, and his ears laid back behind his head like those of a hare before a couple of greyhounds, his retreat being much quicker than his advance. Not having re-loaded my gun, I was obliged to take to my heels too; and often since have I laughed heartily when thinking of that scene-the figure master and dog must have cut when in full retreat before the poor wounded skunk!
The odour of the skunk, though so exceedingly fetid and disagreeable, is strongly impregnated with musk. The essence which gives out this powerful effluvia is contained in a small bag placed under the tail, but in such a situation that the animal has the power of ejecting it at pleasure, and with astonishing aim, as witnessed in the case of my friend when hunting mud-turtles, and several other instances that I could enumerate: and what is, perhaps, equally extraordinary, should
one of these animals in its rambles pass within 200 or 300 yards of a dwelling-house, and get alarmed in any way so as to discharge a portion of this essence, so exceedingly penetrating is the effluvia that every closet and recess in the establishment is entered by it, and all their contents taste and smell strongly of this disagreeable scent. I have known them attacked while engaged in the destruction of poultry, on which occasions those that have joined in the affray have found it impossible to wear the same clothes again until they had undergone sundry ablutions or fumigations; or, what was more generally resorted to, and with better effect, until they had been buried some weeks in fresh mould, which undoubtedly is the most effectual way of cleansing them from this most abominable odour.
A WEEK WITH THE " FIFE," AND "PERTHSHIRE" HOUNDS, AND FINISH OF THE FIFE SEASON.
Ir having been arranged between Mr. Whyte Melville, Master of the "Fife," and Mr. Grant, Master of the "Perthshire," to have a friendly week as a closer to the season, chiefly in the latter country, we could not resist the pleasure of joining in the melée; and accordingly made arrangements with Mrs. Ritchie, of Perth, for a mount for the week. We had no reason to repent our bargain, for she has some prime tits, as you shall see anon. The "ould woman" well deserves encouragement, and neither Oxonian nor Cantab could be better "accommodated" in their famed localities.-On Monday, April 6th, we started to meet the mail from Glasgow on its road to the "Fair City," and having ensconced ourself in one corner of the vehicle, we reached our destination at 3 A. M. the following morning. Perth lies low, being situated in the centre of a spacious plain, surrounded by far-stretching acclivities, whose sides, thickly ornamented by bower-like villas, hedge it in with a cincture of unrivalled picturesque and beautiful scenery. Its site is on the right bank of the Tay, about twenty-eight miles above its confluence with the sea, and distant forty-three miles north of the capital of Scotland. This city boasts of very remote antiquity, and is hallowed by many delightful recollections, rendering it a moot point to say whether, in a visit to it, sight or sentiment is the prevailing gratification. Adamson, in his Muses Threnodie, or "Metrical History of Perth," A. D. 1620, gives an ancient tradition of the origin of the city, to the effect, that Cneius Julius Agricola, in the third year after Vespasian had sent him to be Governor in Britain, about the year 81 of the Christian era, led a numerous army round by the Pass of
Stirling into the country on the North side of the Forth. Penetrating northwards, they approached the spot on which Perth is now built; and when they first came in sight of the Tay and the beautiful plain, they cried out with one accord, "Ecce Tiber, ecce Campus Martius !" comparing the scene to their own river and the extensive plain in the neighbourhood of Rome. The mighty Minstrel of the North, however, makes the Roman army approach from the South
"Behold the Tiber, the vain Roman cried,
Viewing the ample Tay from Beaglie's side."
The tradition further states, that Agricola pitched his camp in the middle of the plain as his winter-quarters, and subsequently built a town, which he intended should be a Roman settlement. He fortified it with walls, and erected a strong castle, surrounded by a moat, which he supplied with water by an aqueduct from the Almond, and built a wooden bridge over the river at Perth. Now whether this tradition of the origin of the "Fair City" be a mere fable, or whether it be a gradual creation of Pictish savages, it certainly made no figure as a town till the Scoto-Saxon period.
As we approached our destination, and whirled around the eastern part of the North Inch, which forms a portion of the plain, where the celebrated combat, as described by Sir Walter in his Fair Maid of Perth, took place between a chosen party of Mackays and Macintoshes, memory dwelt in pleasing recollection of days gone by. There stretched the beautiful plain to the west, and there rolled the "ample Tay;" and in "our mind's eye" we beheld a kilted clansman brandishing his claymore in all the excitement of a true-bred Scot in supporting the ancient privileges and independence of his tribe. In another minute, the pleasing vision dissolved, and we quitted our "leathern convenience" for snug quarters in the George Inn, in which hostelrie "Gentle sleep soon closed our wearied eyes."
Tuesday, April 7th.-Mounted on a "gallant grey," well known in the Perth Hunt, and purchased a few years back by one of its Members at the high figure of £200-a long price in that quarterwe arrived at Gask House, the villa of James Oliphant, Esq., on the north bank of the Earn, between eight and nine miles from Perth. The morning was anything but propitious for sport: not a drop of rain had fallen since the end of February, and the country was as hard as if ice-bound by a six-weeks' frost. We mustered about forty-a large Field for this part of the mountains-all elate with hope, the "Fife" pack being the "order of the day," attended by most of the Members from that "kingdom," and real sporting lads they looked. There was also a full attendance of the Perth Hunt, including Mr. Grant, the present, and Abercairney, the late Master, in his leathers and bit of pink. Congratulations poured thick and fast on the reappearance of the latter in the hunting-field, having been nearly run to earth" by a severe illness, and though he seemed a little lower in condition from his long confinement, he was all alive to the joys of the "noble science." Previously to the " move,' we made a survey of Walker's hounds, and his two Whips, Jack and Joe. The hounds are of larger stature than the Perthshire, averaging about
twenty-four inches, strong in the limb, with a determined varmintlooking countenance. At first view we fancied they must be slow, but subsequent events proved the supposition to be erroneous.
The first covert we drew was a large pine wood at the northern extremity of Mr. Oliphant's property, full of gorse and heath, and— not so desirable-at least a square mile filled with small drains, not unlike a gridiron. We soon found, but the scent was bad, and the varmint hung in covert full twenty minutes: at length he broke away at the south-west corner of the moor, and we anticipated nothing less than a rig'lar steeple-chase. After crossing three fields, however, he turned to the right, and made for the same covert, which he gained, and the hounds could make nothing of him.-Drew the other coverts of Mr. Oliphant blank-Dupplin Lake was understood to be a sure find, and Walker was anxious to try his luck there; but the day was wretchedly cold, and there being no prospect of the scent improving, Mr. Grant advised him to draw off, especially as he had to proceed to Kinross with his hounds that afternoon, and he did so and as he crossed the Earn at Fort Teviot-bridge, we turned our horse's head for the "Fair City," and got back to our quarters at 3 P. M.
Wednesday, April 8th.Met the "Perthshire" at Strathallan Castle. Found in the larch belt at East-gate; weather very cold, even more severe than the preceding day, and scent worse. Had a dodge for about ten minutes, when he broke over some plough, but the hounds could do nothing with him.-Found a second, but again it was "no go;" and we closed the day, as before, without sport.
Thursday, April 9th. The fixture for the "Fife" to-day was at Kilgraston, the residence of the Master of the "Perthshire" the weather much milder, but no rain. Having arrived nearly half an hour "before time," we took the opportunity to have a peep at Mr. Grant's hounds, Jem Harrison accompanying us to the kennel. They were all in good health and spirits, and looking particularly well for so near the close of the season. The stable-yard was filled with gallant steeds, all "ready for the fray" and "here comes Walker with his hounds," was the cry. He had just arrived from Kinross, and as he drew up in front of the mansion, every member of this true Sportsman's family were on the qui vive to have a look at what was going forward, Lady Lucy Grant came out on the lawn among the horsemen and hounds, and the youngsters in pink had a view of several bright eyes at the windows above. Among the strangers ready for the start were, Lords Aberdoun, Rothes, and Paget; the Hon. A. Murray, brother to Lord Dunmore; Captain Teasdale, of the Third Dragoon Guards, from Edinburgh, mounted on a splendid thorough-bred bay; with a host of others to the number of fifty. Our first point was to the coverts on the face of the hill south of Kilgraston, which Mr. Grant said was a sure find: conceive then our mortification when the expected prize turned out a blank not a fox to be seen. Some other coverts were drawn with no better success. We then trotted to a covert of Lord Ruthven's at Frealand-blank again! A high covert on the Invermay property-blank! Off for Lillie whinnie-blank! We now moved in the direction of Dunning for a favorite covert, Kippen Den. On our way thither the hounds were put into a small planting on the
top of the hill, of which Mr. Grant had no hope, as he had never found a fox therein; but, to our great joy, the pack were no sooner in than a whimper was heard, and, in a moment after, one glorious chorus broke on our gladdened ears. No hounds could get faster away, and we had a tremendous burst for twenty minutes back to Lillie whinnie, about six miles, without a single check, and run to ground in full view. We never saw a Field so tailed for so short a distance. The quarry was supposed to be a vixen, and she just made her "lucky" in time. We now retraced our steps for Kippen Den, which being drawn blank, most of those who had to go towards Perth faced to the right about: on our way thither we more successful in drawing the Inn at Dinning for a leetle of the creature comforts, and then jogged on towards home. We learnt the next day that Walker drew three other coverts in the Fife country blank, and then "cut it."-Spirit of BRUNECHeval, what would'st thou have said hadst thou been there!
A word to Mr. Grant here may not be deemed intrusive, for no one could ever have supposed that all the coverts on the Kilgraston property should be drawn blank-in fact, did not hold a fox. We were aware that the varmint had sadly decreased for the last twelve months, but this was past all credibility. Now, as the season has closed, we would advise him to give a sharp look out, for it is in the summer that "destruction is most rife;" and it would not be amiss were he to take a leaf out of Abercairney's old book, in which he will find that that excellent Sportsman turned out no fewer than thirty foxes in one season. He must bestir himself, or we fear his kenneldoor, to use a Paddyism, will boast of a plentiful scarcity of heads next
We arrived at the George shortly after five o'clock, and having partaken of a comfortable dinner, and a small modicum of whiskytoddy, we strolled into the town, but had scarcely left our inn when we encountered our brother Sportsman, Mr. Piddie, once a keen knight of the trigger, and now Secretary to the Perthshire Hounds. After the mutual greeting of such old friends, he pressed our body corporate to a palaver at his villa at Pitcullen Bank, where, o'er a cheerful glass, we talked of the deeds done in the heyday of youth, and "fought our battles o'er again." In his dining parlor were the two splendid engravings of which MAGA has made honorable mention-the Meet of Her Majesty's Hounds, and the Melton Breakfast. Having to be up betimes in the morning, we took an early leave of our truly hospitable host, and turned in for the night, anticipating a better day on the
Friday, April 10th.-The Spaniards have a proverbial expression, to the effect that " no man ever saw to-morrow," which is but another way of saying that it is impossible to foretel the events of the coming day. There is little doubt of this, even if poets and philosophers had neglected to tell us so our every-day experience assures us of its truth; and it was fully borne out to-day. The fixture, with the "Perthshire," was at Mr. Johnstone's, Kincardine Castle; and, from its known celebrity, great things were anticipated. Disappointment, however, was the "badge of all our tribe:" no scent, no sport, "no nothing!"