112 MEMORIES OF MY LIFE
whence, after being wind-bound for a while, I sailed in the post boat, which was then the only means of conveying letters from island to island, and so reached the so-called " Mainland," and settled at Kirkwall.
The next year I started before the grouse season began, and spent a most interesting summer among the Shetlands, using rowboats as the usual means of conveyance, and occupying myself with seal-shooting and bird-nesting. I could write much about all this, and on the weird experiences of a fisher society living in a treeless land, with whale jaws for posts, and with no knife in their pockets larger than a penknife, having only tobacco and string to cut with it. Their social hierarchy was such, that a man who had been to Hudson's Bay had taken, to speak in the language of a University, a " l'ooll l )r'gree " °l'hww who had visited Baffin Bay were considered to have ga i
A shoal of whales (the cawing whale,, averaging perhaps 20 feet in length) came ashore whilst I was in Shetland, and I hurriedly rode several miles to be in time to see them. Nearly one hundred were lying dead on the beach, but they looked small as they were scattered over the shore of the bay. The excitement of driving in the shoals is said to be an event not easily forgotten. I t was all over by the time I arrived.
I would not shoot a seal now, but youths are murderous by instinct, and so was I. There was much of interest in the conditions under which they were shot. The early rise in the long summer day, the row to the leeward side of a likely holm, or small island ; creeping up to a good vantage point and waiting there until the head of a seal is seen to bob