In the golden month of October, according to the glowing account of mine host of the Samoset, Plymouth presents attractions to the sportsman and lover of natural scenery unsurpassed by those of any locality on the Atlantic coast. The climate is equable, being about twenty degrees cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than below the Cape. For a distance of some fifteen or twenty miles to the south and southwest of Plymouth the country is sparsely settled, and retains the wild beauty of its primeval state.
Here, it was said, the woods teemed with the partridge, the fields in the vicinity of the town with quail, while myriads of black ducks revelling in this paradise of lakes were sure to afford the hunter excellent sport. If this easy game should cloy on the overfed appetite of the sportsman, and he should sigh for a crack at the more hardy fowl which brave the storms of our rock-bound coast, the Gurnet and Mamamet points would afford the desired opportunity, where "thousands of millions" of birds of passage daily pass.
This was enough. After having provided an armament for the contemplated slaughter of game, and ammunition enough to storm a fort, our party arrives, on a superb moonlit evening, at the neat and homelike Samoset. Mine host is something of a character, being a combination of the old sea-captain and English country gentleman. After a substantial supper and a bottle of Scotch ale he is ever a philosopher, with the tenets of Epicurus, and desires nothing better than a new lease of life, with permission to live on the Gurnet, with his dog and gun, and observe the revolution in thought which he foresees will take place within the next twenty-five years even among the fossilized inhabitants of old Plymouth. He informs us that game is plenty; and a brace of fat partridges hanging in the office, shot that day by a boy, serve to confirm his statement and make us eager for the fray. We soon retire, having arranged for an early start in the morning.
Who shall relate the fortune of that day! Suffice it to say that at dinner-time we all met, having bagged - what do you think? - one partridge, one quail, and the tail-feathers of a blue-jay. On comparing notes, our feelings were somewhat relieved on learning that no one had missed a really fair shot, that if they had had a dog they would have secured a large number of birds, etc., etc. The birds, they said, flew with surprising rapidity and a startling noise, and as they had always been told that it was dangerous to carry a gun on full cock, they really had not time to cock it and bring it to the shoulder before the birds had disappeared. These difficulties they had not foreseen, and could not exist in duck-shooting, which we determined to try that afternoon. But, alas for our high hopes, ducks there were none, and after an hour's shooting at a target, in hopes of attracting the birds, we returned home to sup off the ducks that little boy had shot.
That night, at a council of war to which mine host was admitted, it was decided by two of the most determined of our party to try the last resort, that of coot-shooting on the Point. In this undertaking even the elements combined against us; for on one occasion the eclipse of the moon had such an effect on the tide as to leave the harbor a mass of mud at the time appointed for sailing; and on another, a storm threatening, our prudent skipper would not put to sea. Space fails me to relate how, balked in all our plans of sport, the party at length resorted to the Harvard amusement of billiards and pool, and, returning through the town to their hotel, regaled the Plymouthites with "Maid of Athens" and "Mulligan Guards," and were surrounded by a strong posse of police impressed for the service (the permanent force is one watchman), who caused them to desist from their philanthropic efforts to cheer the melancholy inhabitants. Nor can I relate how, in the forlorn hope of retrieving our fallen fortunes, yet one more expedition was made in search of ducks, which nearly resulted in the death of some decoys which we had taken for the real birds. These memories are of too harrowing a nature to be given to the public, on whose indulgence I have already trespassed too far.