Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

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doubt that the directors will receive with open arms any amateur
player who is up to the standard of the club. In these expensive
days of football it is no small thing to be able to decrease instead
of increase the wages bill, and, moreover, a good amateur will
always introduce some individuality into an eleven, and also a
quantity of dash, which is getting somewhat rare amid the machine-
like methods of professionalism.

Finally, we have before us two examples, one of unity and one
of disunity, between amateur and professional. Cricket, the former,
stands united and flourishing; Rugby football is disunited and
almost shattered. Hitherto Associationists have been inclined to
fall between the two stools; but signs are not wanting that now it is
their tendency to learn their lesson, and it only remains to be seen
whether the unpaid players can fit themselves into the all too few
crevices left for them by the paid. If they can do so, then football
has even a greater future than it has had a past ; if they cannot,
then the game as a national pastime is doomed to destruction within
a few years.

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" What ? Shoot capercailzie in the breeding-season ? And shoot
him sitting ? On a tree ? With a scatter-gun ? What an unsports-
manlike thing to do ! And what rotten sport — it can't be sport at
all ! "

Thus to me a British friend. And, until I went on the ** balz " ^
myself, I was inclined to agree with him. But I have altered my

In the big pine forests in Germany there are many capercailzie.
As everyone knows, they are extremely shy birds ; and as the forests
are very big, it is impossible to drive them. The only way of getting
them, therefore, is to stalk them ; and as they are so wary that the
crackle of a twig a hundred yards off is enough to send them flitting,
it is only possible to approach them when they are temporarily deaf.
This, by a curious law of nature, happens only during the breeding-
season, at a particular moment when they are calling (** balz-ing ")
to their lady-loves, and therefore nature must be held responsible
for the otherwise unnatural time which one has to choose for their

Last April it was my luck to go out on the balz. Place:
the outlying spurs of the Thiiringer Wald. Time : 2.15 a.m., or there-

1 To those unacquainted with German, I would say that this word rhymes with the
English word " results."

D 2

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After an hour's drive through the dark my friend Captain V.
and I were met by a depressed-looking little man at the outskirts of
a pine wood. Two minutes' confabulation revealed the fact that
during the last three mornings a couple of cock had been calling
fairly steadily in a certain direction. So we left the carriage and
plodded uphill on foot. It was still dark, with snow underfoot, and
a fine snow falling — cold, but luckily no wind. Half-an-hour's
trudge over a vile path, and we had arrived in the neighbourhood of
where a cock had been heard the day before. Cartridges (No. 2)
were quietly slipped in, and the gun cocked without noise. Then a
silent wait in the cold for another half-hour. Not a sound, till the
dull sky began to lighten by ever so little — and then an owl began
calling ** Tu-hu-hu-hu-hu " close by. Still no sound of our friend —
and then — a double noise like two dry sticks being clicked gently
together, so faint at first that it did not suggest any live thing. Five
minutes' pause — then the clicking again, but rather louder, perhaps
a hundred yards ahead of us.

V. signed to me to be ready to rush, and with every nerve on
edge we waited. More clicking, more and more continuous, and
then the blessed sound ** Slif-slif-slif-slif ! " At the first "slif " we
bounded forward three paces and halted suddenly, as the noise had
finished with a gentle ** pop." More waiting, perhaps five minutes,
till he began again. ** K6rk^-kork ; kuk-kuk; kak-kak ; kek-kek;
kik-kik .... Slif-slif-slif," etc. — like water being poured gently out
of a bottle : it is impossible to represent the exact sounds — " pst-pop ! "
And there we were, three paces on, it is true, but standing in most
inartistic and uncomfortable attitudes. My right foot was in a
puddle of icy water, and my left twisted round sideways in an almost
unbearable position — yet I dared not move. V. was still more
uncomfortable, for the "pop" had caught him in the middle of a
stride, and he was on one leg, with the other foot balancing un-
steadily in front ; yet he dared not put it down, for fear of breaking
a twig or making some trifling sound. My heart was thumping like
a steam-engine, the fine falling snow was tickling my nose, I felt
desperately inclined to sneeze, and my gun happened to be at an
angle at which it was agony to hold it for more than a minute. Yet
that bird was deathly still, and there was not a whisper in the woods.

Gradually a feeling of anger came over me at the wretched bird
who could keep me waiting for ten minutes in a pool of cold water
and in excruciating agony. I felt inclined to chance everything and
put myself quietly comfortable ; but a stealthy glance at V. re-
assured me — he was suffering even more than I. . . . All things

The sound is more like the guttural Arabic " Kd.f " than any I know.

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have an end, and at last, to our immense relief, the cock began again.
This time, and the next, we did about five paces, and a breathed
**Do you see him ? " from V. reached my ears. I didn't, and shook
my head gently. So at the next rush he went forward with his arm
stretched out, pointing to a particular tree which had been concealed
from me by intervening brushwood. Then came the ** pop " before
he had a chance to lower his arm ; and thus he remained for the
next five minutes, within full view of the bird, and with an expression
of patient suffering on his face. It was all I could do to repress a
chuckle, but this time I caught sight of the bird too — sitting on a
branch, high up, clear against the dark sky, but a good forty yards
off. His neck was stretched out, and he was jerking lightly from
side to side — a sign that he was alarmed at something. So, making


a virtue of necessity, I slowly, very slowly, raised my gun, took a
steady aim, and pressed the trigger.

That bird had been sitting there for a good hour, and he might
just as well have remained there for another second. But he didn't. At
the exact moment when I pulled the trigger I became aware that the
cock had suddenly dived off his branch. The shot flew harmless
over his head, and before I could spot him in the half light and get
the second barrel in he had swooshed down through the smaller
branches and disappeared, with a sharp turn to the right, into a dark

I will not describe our feelings.

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The depressed little man, who had waited behind, came running
up at the shot, and his face fell. But he offered what was meant to
be consolation by relating that in the previous year the very same
cock had been missed — a sitting shot — on the very same branch by
another sportsman at ten yards' range. It was quite possible, for the
cocks are very constant to their tree — but it was no balm to our sore
hearts. All that remained was to listen if cock No. 2 were bail-
ing. But after a short stealthy walk and a listening of a quarter
of an hour we agreed that it was getting too light, so we went

Next morning we were out again about the same time, but in a
different and much more hilly direction. The bird of the previous
day had not begun to balz before 4.15, chiefly because the weather
was dull and cold ; but the following morning was glorious. We
struggled uphill over tree-stumps and through wet moss at break-
neck speed in the dark : for as the weather was quite still and clear,
it was probable that the capercailzie would begin balzing rather
earlier, and we were a trifle late.

Arrived at the appointed spot we listened intently till the land-
scape grew clearer and clearer with the approach of dawn. Another
owl saluted us in the stillness; the mists in the valley below began
to roll away ; the sky became redder and redder — yet not a sound.
Then at last the welcome half-audible click in the distance. As we
moved cautiously forward there was suddenly a loud rustle in the tree
close by, and with much fuss and pother a lordly capercailzie arose
and sailed down towards the valley. So close, and yet he had not
made a single call : evidently bad weather ahead — confirmed by the
colour of the sky. For a long time we stood silent, and then the
clicking began again, but badly, feebly, and at long intervals. It
required infinite patience to get close, for the ** slif-slif '* was very
short, and the hillside rocky, tufty, crackly, and stubby. Meanwhile,
however, as if to make up for our discomfort, the sight of the rising
sun was beautiful. The trees, silhouetted at first black against the
sky, gradually took on their rich dark colouring ; the grey boulders
stood out against the yellow grass ; and the feathery larches paled
to a delicate green. Then, just as the sun's disc began to show, and
tipped the big firs with gold, a regular chorus of small birds' voices
arose, re-echoing the harmony from copse to copse.

And amongst it all the feeble intermittent click and guggle of
our cock drew us onward.

Even when within twenty yards of the bird it was difficult to
spot him. He was sitting on a young pine surrounded by a thicket
of fuzzy spruce ; and although I could get glimpses of bits of him, for
a time I could not see enough to shoot at. Then at last, after im-

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mense precaution, and with my heart going like a sledge-hammer, I
sidled in among the spruce, under protection of his '* slif-slif,'* and
got a good view of him. He was a beautiful bird, with his head out,
beak wide open, wings stretched low on either side, and tail aspread
like a big fan. With the sunlight reflected off his coppery green
throat-feathers and the sheeny black of his tail, it seemed a brutal
thing to slay him. But the sun went behind a cloud and I hardened
my heart.

He fell without a struggle, and we returned in triumph. He
turned the scale at a little over 9 lb. (German).

On the following morning, after half a gale had blown itself out
during the night, I went after another cock in the same neighbour-
hood. The stalk was not remarkable except for one thing — the mar-
vellous hearing power of the bird. We were a good hundred yards
off, and the cock was beginning to balz fairly well, when suddenly,
whilst we were standing absolutely still — in, as usual, desperately
uncomfortable positions — V.'s ankle, which was slewed round all
crookedwise, gave a crack .... We had to wait fifteen minutes by
the watch before that bird began again.

Then again, when fifty yards nearer, to ease my attitude I
happened to lean rather more heavily on one foot. A tiny twig
under the carpet of pine needles snapped, so that I could feel
but hardly hear it. Yet that bird was completely dumb for the
next twenty minutes. At one moment V. breathed quietly his
opinion that we might as well shut up and go home : but we
gave the cock another chance, and at last he began again.

To make a long story short, I got to within twenty yards of
the cock, but there I stuck. He was sitting on a branch, with
the trunk between himself and me, and all I could see was his
tail and a third of the after end of his body. The tail was
already gently quivering with alarm, and had I worked round
he must have seen me and bolted. So I had to chance it, and
fired at what was visible. A crash through the branches told
that I had not missed, but before reaching the ground he found
the use of his wings, and, almost invisible in the dark, half flew
and half ran at a desperate rate into a thicket a few yards off".
That thicket was about a mile square, and we had of course no dog.

My friend was convinced we should never see the bird again,
but, knowing where I had hit him, I ventured to diff'er. We
therefore waited till broad daylight, and turned out a dozen
labourers with a couple of dogs to look for him.

After ten minutes* careful search we found him — stone dead
and within two hundred yards of where he had gone in.

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Amongst other things that were borne in on me during these
three days, I found that considerable science was required for timing
the stalk. If you are in too much of a hurry you run the risk
of making a noise and disturbing the birds. If, on the other hand,
you are too cautious, you will hear an occasional swish through
the air in his direction, and will recognise that his lady-loves
are obeying their lord's behests, and that their lord will shortly
descend from his throne to dally with them below. It is then a
case of ** all over." He honours as many as three or four of them
each morning with his attentions, and at the end of the balzing
season he is looking rather disreputable, worn, and ragged.
About this time his head and neck show signs of many a fight,
sometimes an eye is gone, and his strut has lost its pristine
pride: three weeks, after all, of nothing but fighting are apt to
weaken the knees of the strongest man. By the end of the first
week in May^ however, his trials are over, and he rapidly recovers
on the budding fir-tops, and grows fat and handsome again in
the sunny weather. Family cares do not seem to interest or
weigh upon him, and the hen has to hatch out her four to
six eggs, of a greenish speckly brownish grey, according to her
own lights.

It is difficult to see why the capercailzie should be such a
shy bird, and so well provided by nature that he has,
according to the local saying, an eye and an ear at the end
of each feather. He can have but few enemies. Prowling
foxes and weasels below, and martens and hawks above, may
be a serious danger to young birds, but these are apparently the
only enemies with whom the Cock o' the Woods has to deal ;
and when he has grown to his full strength he need hardly
fear them. Man he can see but little of and hardly know by
sight, yet of him he is the shyest. And here nature has
turned traitor : for the deafness which alone enables brutal
man to approach him during his **slif-slif* call is a purely
natural defect. The opening of the beak to make this noise
causes two little horny plates to descend perpendicularly in
front of each earhole, and whilst they are there the bird
hears literally nothing. A gun may be fired close by, the man
may yell or make any noise he pleases ; and the cock,
absorbed in his own sweet music, pays not the smallest

It is said that if two cocks are balzing near each other
you can get them both by shooting one whilst the other is
** slif-sliffing," and then turning your attention to the other. I
can quite believe it, for during his song the cock is so self-

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absorbed that he not only hears nothing but sees nothing either.
If, however, he sees you in the intervals of balzing, he gets
at first nervous and restless. If you remain absolutely still, he
will, after gazing at you for a bit, think you are only an oddly
shaped piece of landscape, and return to his balz. But a
nervousness will still remain at the back of his mind, and the
quiver in between whiles will tell you that he is a trifle
alarmed and may be off at any moment. I need hardly say
that if, during the scrutiny, you wink your eye or change the
expression of your face, the cock will vanish long before you
can get your gun up. Therefore keep your face modestly
cast down, and, as regards your gun, hold it pointing at the
bird, or he may see the glint of the rising sun on the barrels.

* * * j;: :;:

I do not know whether I have succeeded in conveying to
the reader any idea of the charm of the sport I have endeavoured
to describe. I can only sa}', speaking for myself, that after
my first stalk I was quivering from head to foot with intense
feeling, and was sacrilegious enough to express the opinion that
it was a much more exciting sport than deerstalking.


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AuTOMOHiLiSM ! The word almost inspires awe as in imagination
one travels through the ages and sees the **car" developing. First
of all comes to mind the chariot of the Egyptians-^the huge, not
ungainly vehicle that was the pride of some rich noble; and so
through all sorts of wheeled vehicles we come to the motor of

Not so long ago George Stephenson developed the **auto'* idea
and brought out one of the wonders of all time — the locomotive.
But a locomotive can only go where first its rails have been laid,
and to the unconquerable energy of man this inflexibility of move-
ment was only another incentive to further progress.

In Cugnot's dreams he seemed to be able to travel with light-
ning speed over the world, and his imagination builded for him a
fairy car. ** Thoughts are things," so say the wise, and imagination
after all is but the faculty of foreseeing, and so clothing with thought
what must some day be formed in the material world. Out o(
Cugnot's imagination then was born, in 1769, the first of all vehicles

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to move by its own power on land — the beginning of the latter-day
development of that which in this twentieth century is still young,
" Automobilism."

To the student, and even to the casual reader, as yet it means
but a few names. These are veritable landmarks indeed amid an
ocean of technicalities. One hears of ** engines " and ** carburettors,"
of "clutches," "ignition," and "differentials," but they are the
A B C's of the book of automobilism, and for interest one hurries on
to the story of which such words form the alphabet.

"Cherchez toujours lafemme," say the French, and the history


of the automobile movement is not without its women. Perhaps one
who could recount the most entertaining of car experiences would
be Mrs. Charles Gliddon, an indefatigable world-explorer, who, in
1903, accompanied her husband in a 16 h.p. Napier to the frozen
North. The motorists started in Sweden, and the journey to the
Arctic circle was one long, triumphant procession. Sweden can
boast of many telephones, and these were used to such good purpose
that long before a town was reached cyclists were waiting to greet
the autoists of whose wondrous drive they had heard by means of
the " phone." After welcoming the Gliddons these ardent wheelmen
turned back to notify their townsfolk that the car was on the way.

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Great was their astonishment and dismay when they found that the
car, and not themselves, was to be first at the rendezvous, where
the inhabitants of the surrounding country enthusiastically received
the travellers with much shouting and ringing of bells.

A rather amusing and withal instructive incident occurred in
a diminutive village in the north of Sweden. The tyres — which
were especially large — attracted considerable attention, and one old
man, who had been fondling them for some time, turned at last to
Mrs. Gliddon, saying, ** I am seventy-six years old, and hardly now
believe that such a thing can be possible, that I should be alive to


see a wagon that goes by itself without horses and with such wheels !
This is the most wonderful thing that I have ever seen."

The roads in Sweden are not for the comfort-loving, being
mostly narrow and rutty with a wide ditch for a border: in some
places mere gullies do duty, while far north there are only reindeer
tracks. No bridges are found in these northern regions, and the
Napier had to be ferried across several rivers in small flat-bottomed
boats : in two or three cases temporary bridges had even to be built
first from the shore to the boat. Plainly, the motorist who explores
must be prepared to rough it, as did the early settlers in America and
the colonies. Lulea is the wonder spot of the North, for it glories

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in the possession of a steam ferry. Miles away the ^^a^vellers h ^
of Lulei; the inhabitants talked of it with glee, and told them th
they should be happy indeed, for at Lulei they Wou/d have the
chance of crossing a river on a steam ferry !

Intelligent curiosity is well, but at times it is somewhat embar-
rassing. The people in these country villages did not seem able to
realise that motorists were, after all, of the human race, but came
and looked at them with ill-concealed amazement, some even being
venturesome enough to climb up and peep into the hotel windows,
until at last Mrs. Gliddon declares she was really obliged to look


into her mirror to see if she were truly the same woman who once
upon a time had started from America.

After their objective — the magic circle — had been crossed and
Mr. and Mrs. Gliddon had bidden good-bye to the land of the sad-
faced Laps and sturdy Finns, they set to work to plan a novel motor
trip round the world.

In 1904 they again started from Boston, on a Napier still, but
this time one of somewhat more power. From Minneapolis to
Vancouver, a distance of some 1,800 miles, they travelled on the
railway — in their own car, be it always understood — and averaged
the thrilling speed of a mile a minute.

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From Canada to Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, and thence to
Tasmania, Australia, Java, Malay, London, and New York, is a
round-the-world tour which must have been productive of many
noteworthy an experience.

The roads of Java excited Mrs. GHddon's admiration. Every-
one goes bare-footed, and it is considered a sacred duty to remove
bits of glass or rough stone from the public way — thus for the
motorist it is a veritable paradise. Java, indeed, pleased Mrs.
Gliddon immensely. It is, she says, the country she would best


like to re- visit. The Dutch have not yet attempted to educate the
natives beyond work, and the people are all very respectful to the
whites, removing their hats or crouching to the ground when these
pass. The Javanese are not frightened of the Dutch rule, but
respect it, and their deference to all Europeans is really a mark of
reverence for their own rulers.

Mrs. Gliddon was especially interested to see how the women
are beginning to regard a woman's affairs from a European stand-
point. The impression the Javanese give a visitor is that of happi*
ness. Some, of course, are wealthy, but the majority of the

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population is composed of just the working people of the country,
and they seem perfectly satisfied with their life. What impresses
the stranger, too, is the mass of humanity everywhere. '* We
drove," says Mrs. Gliddon, ** hundreds of miles on end. There
never was a spot two hundred yards in extent where we could escape
people. There was no loneliness anywhere. Sometimes I thought,
' Surely, now we're coming to a place without people ! ' But no ; as
the car approached, literally thousands of black heads sprang up
from the rice fields on either side of the road."


Java is a beautiful country, though so cultivated that one looks
longingly for an oasis that has not been touched ; but there is not a
spot that man has not turned into a garden, and the place is so
teeming with people that it seems to be always one entire fete.

There is here a great deal of the red-tape rule. One must first
obtain permission to enter the country from the Governor-General ;
next, under the instructions of the Resident, the Chief Engineer of
Railways inspects the car; and then, after having paid a deposit of
about £30 to the Customs, one can procure from the Post Office
Department a permit to remain in the country six months. The
Dutch, too, are exceedingly watchful, and will not allow anyone who

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 5 of 52)