1866

Season 1866

This season we added three puppies of Nell and Rap's to the kennel; they were liver and white like the old dogs, so we called the family Mr. and Mrs. Rap, and the young Raps, but though the puppies turned out well, none of them came up to old Rap. He would do anything, point, retrieve, catch rats, rabbiting, or anything you liked.

He would do what not one dog in twenty, aye! in fifty, will do: if he had a slant wind of birds he turned back and took a round swing to get his wind properly; with most dogs you have to whistle and work them round by hand.

I bred him from a pure heavy Spanish pointer dog and a well-bred English bitch, but one so rank that her owner gave her to me to breed from, and then make away with her. I kept three puppies out of the litter, but, excepting Rap, although better looking, they were no good—no real work in them. They would have sold well, but I preferred to shoot them to selling the man who would have bought them.

One other very good-looking likely puppy I gave to the old Marquis de la——, but I believe, as the old gentleman made a pet of him, and endowed him with a collar and bells, and would have shaved him had he had anything to shave, that his sporting career was not brilliant.

I came by Rap's father rather oddly: he belonged to a working carpenter, who had picked up the puppy at some nobleman's place where he had been working, had broken him well, and he was a very careful, slow ranger, the very thing for English shooting in the days of stubbles, and I had had my eye upon him all the early summer, and at last, about the middle of August, I negociated the purchase for £7; but the dog never came, and I could not get to hear anything about him. But in the afternoon of August 31 up comes Mr. Carpenter and his dog to "implement" the bargain, as Scotch people would say. I wanted to know how the delay came about, and, after a lot of cross-questioning, it came out that General ——'s coachman and he had agreed that the dog was to be planted on the general at £12, and the difference of £5 to be divided between coachman and carpenter; but the planting did not come off, so in the eleventh hour he was brought up to me, and I was glad to take him.

As Shot, the Spanish dog, grew old, he became very dodgy; he had the run of the house, and would get away and hunt the hedges for the labourer's dinners and bring them home, napkins and all; and, if taken into the town to the butcher's shop, he would go, and, somehow or other, get away unperceived with a piece of meat. He was never caught red handed, at any rate by the butcher, who was consequently accused of base slander.

The staunchness of those Spanish pointers was remarkable. On one occasion he was pointing and roading, and pointing a landrail in a patch of clover; the bird was headed and rose, and flew right towards the dog's mouth. Shot opened his mouth, and closed it on the bird, and then he stood stock still without moving a muscle.

He never attempted to meddle with game or rabbits, but if he came near a tiny rabbit just out of the burrow he would pick him up and bolt him like a pill.

This was a very good season, the second day getting over 100 brace to the two guns, shooting together over the same dogs—getting in all about 400 brace in the season, besides hares and sundries.

But Fred, when we left the place, was full of fear and trembling, as at the latter end we got two or three badly-diseased birds. Fred knew what disease meant; but to me it was something new yet to learn; and, looking at the magnificent stock of fine healthy birds, I made light of his fears.

When we took the place, and afterwards went down to look at it, every inquiry was made as to disease, but not a soul would own to anything. It was stated on all hands that on Glenmarkie disease was a thing unknown, but Fred did not believe in its being so. I daresay many of my readers have been told the same flattering tale about other moors, and with the same results.

Before leaving we discharged the keeper; we could not do with his domineering ways, and, after careful inquiry, we engaged young David Black, a son of a keeper of Lord Airlie's. He came of a good game keeping stock, and was all that we could wish for.

He was married to an Orkney woman; we liked them both, and they have been in my service ever since, which should speak well for master and man.