HUNTING AND SHOOTING 113
up; then stalking the animal by running from cover to cover whenever he sinks out of sight. Then, on reaching the beach, going cautiously between the big boulders to a good shooting-place and poking the rifle over one of the stones, shielding it and self from sight as carefully as possible. There one has to wait, perhaps with the tide coming in over one's legs, until in the course of his antics the seal's head rises within sure shooting distance; then a careful aim, and a bang. The boatmen hearing the sound, come rowing as hard as they can round the corner, lest the seal should sink and be lost. He ought to be shot dead, or not touched at all. The oozing blubber of the animal makes a circular calm round the spot where he is shot, with the bloodstain in the middle. A boat-hook secure-, (Ate ,;cal even if lie shotild have sunk four or live feet. His market value is a few shillings ; the boatmen get him as their perquisite.
I heard a story about the domesticity of the seal, as having recurred, with variations in detail, at more than one place. A young seal was caught and became quite at home with the fisherman, coming to his house for company, for warmth in the winter-time, and for food. It was petted until its size made it too big for a pet and troublesome to the children. Then the fisherman, sad at heart, took it with him in his boat, far away to the fishing-ground, and threw it overboard. Some days later, when the family were at supper, rather dismal at the loss of their old friend, they heard the familiar sound of scuffling and scratching, and on opening the door, in flopped the seal.
I used to watch the breeding-places of the sea birds, of which there were multitudes, of perhaps twenty