Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - by Henry David Thoreau

was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more
distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any
epaulet I could have worn. The squirrels also grew at last to be quite
familiar, and occasionally stepped upon my shoe, when that was the
nearest way.

When the ground was not yet quite covered, and again near the end
of winter, when the snow was melted on my south hillside and about
my wood-pile, the partridges came out of the woods morning and
evening to feed there. Whichever side you walk in the woods the
partridge bursts away on whirring wings, jarring the snow from the
dry leaves and twigs on high, which comes sifting down in the
sunbeams like golden dust, for this brave bird is not to be scared by
winter. It is frequently covered up by drifts, and, it is said,
"sometimes plunges from on wing into the soft snow, where it
remains concealed for a day or two." I used to start them in the open
land also, where they had come out of the woods at sunset to "bud"
the wild apple trees. They will come regularly every evening to
particular trees, where the cunning sportsman lies in wait for them,
and the distant orchards next the woods suffer thus not a little. I am
glad that the partridge gets fed, at any rate. It is Nature’s own bird
which lives on buds and diet-drink.

In dark winter mornings, or in short winter afternoons, I sometimes
heard a pack of hounds threading all the woods with hounding cry
and yelp, unable to resist the instinct of the chase, and the note of the
hunting-horn at intervals, proving that man was in the rear. The
woods ring again, and yet no fox bursts forth on to the open level of
the pond, nor following pack pursuing their Actaeon. And perhaps at
evening I see the hunters returning with a single brush trailing from
their sleigh for a trophy, seeking their inn. They tell me that if the
fox would re-main in the bosom of the frozen earth he would be safe,
or if be would run in a straight line away no foxhound could
overtake him; but, having left his pursuers far behind, he stops to rest
and listen till they come up, and when he runs he circles round to his
old haunts, where the hunters await him. Sometimes, however, he
will run upon a wall many rods, and then leap off far to one side, and
he appears to know that water will not retain his scent. A hunter told
me that he once saw a fox pursued by hounds burst out on to Walden
when the ice was covered with shallow puddles, run part way across,
and then return to the same shore. Ere long the hounds arrived, but
here they lost the scent. Sometimes a pack hunting by themselves
would pass my door, and circle round my house, and yelp and hound
without regarding me, as if afflicted by a species of madness, so that
nothing could divert them from the pursuit. Thus they circle until
they fall upon the recent trail of a fox, for a wise hound will forsake
everything else for this. One day a man came to my hut from
Lexington to inquire after his hound that made a large track, and had
been hunting for a week by himself. But I fear that he was not the
wiser for all I told him, for every time I attempted to answer his
questions he interrupted me by asking, "What do you do here?" He
had lost a dog, but found a man.

One old hunter who has a dry tongue, who used to come to bathe in
Walden once every year when the water was warmest, and at such
times looked in upon me, told me that many years ago he took his
gun one afternoon and went out for a cruise in Walden Wood; and as
he walked the Wayland road he heard the cry of hounds
approaching, and ere long a fox leaped the wall into the road, and as
quick as thought leaped the other wall out of the road, and his swift
bullet had not touched him. Some way behind came an old hound
and her three pups in full pursuit, hunting on their own account, and
disappeared again in the woods. Late in the afternoon, as he was
resting in the thick woods south of Walden, he heard the voice of the
hounds far over toward Fair Haven still pursuing the fox; and on
they came, their hounding cry which made all the woods ring
sounding nearer and nearer, now from Well Meadow, now from the
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - by Henry David Thoreau

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with