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When Mr. Tucker, Joe, and Rob arrived at Errolstrath, it was just one o'clock. The family had kept dinner waiting, and everything was ready to put on the table by the time the horses were fed and the hounds' wounds rubbed with witch-hazel. Mrs. Thompson used to prepare this remedy herself, and she considered it the best thing in the world for injuries.

At dinner the boys and the old trapper entertained the family with an account of the morning's hunt, telling them how splendidly both Bluey and Brutus had behaved in company with such thoroughbreds as Custer's hounds, and especially with General Sheridan's famous Cinch, who was supposed to be the finest animal of his kind in the country.

They all adjourned to the broad veranda after dinner was over, excepting the girls who had to clear up the things. Mr. Tucker said that Colonel Keogh had told him that some of the officers' families who had just come from the East to Fort Harker were very desirous for wild turkey, which they had not yet tasted.

"He wanted me to ask you, Joe, if you cannot soon get them a few. I know that this is the very best time to hunt them, so let you, and Rob, and me go to that roost on Mud Creek this evening. It's full moon to-night, and we shall never have a better chance."

"All right," promptly spoke up both of the boys. "We'll have to take our ponies," said Joe, "for it's fully six miles. I was down there the other afternoon, and I should think that hundreds roost there."

"What time ought we to leave here?" inquired Rob. "You know that my month to herd and milk the cows is not out yet, and I want to do my work before I go; not that father would not do it willingly for me in a case of this kind, but I don't care to bother him; he has enough to do with the other stock."

"Oh!" said Joe, "we need not get away from here until long after supper. The birds won't come to their roost until it is nearly dark, and as we always have supper at six, and can ride down to Mud Creek easily in an hour, you will have ample time to do your chores, Rob, without hurrying a bit."

"Tell us something about the wild turkey, Mr. Tucker," said Rob. "You know all the habits of our beasts and birds."

"Well, Rob," said the old trapper, "the wild turkey is one of the indigenous birds of America. He once flourished from the most remote eastern boundary of the United States to every part of the far West. Now, through the wantonness of man, he is rapidly disappearing, as is nearly all of our large game. There are still plenty here in Kansas. The wild turkey makes his haunts in the timber, and being gregarious birds they keep together in large flocks, and roost in the same place for years, if not disturbed. All of our domestic turkeys have come from the wild stock, but the wild ones are still larger than the tame ones in many instances. I have shot them in nearly every place in the country where I have hunted. They are stupid in refusing to leave their roosts at night when shot at. They persistently fly back again to the same trees, when they could just as easily fly away out of danger. In such times they are almost as foolish as the sage hen, which in my opinion is the most stupid bird that flies. You can shoot at them until you hit them, if it takes a week; they won't move."

Just as the sun sank behind the hills beyond the Oxhide bluffs, Joe, Rob, and Mr. Tucker left Errolstrath for the turkey roost on Mud Creek. The old trapper rode Joe's buffalo pony, while Joe mounted the little roan which had brought his sister so safely from the Indian village; Rob rode Ginger, which Kate had kindly loaned him for the occasion.

They followed the trail up the creek for about a mile, then turned abruptly east over the hills toward Fort Sill military road, then over the open country for another mile, until they arrived at the head of Mud Creek.

The moon had risen in a cloudless sky, and it shines nowhere so brilliantly as in our mid-continent region. Every tree and bush cast a shadow, and the trail over the prairie was lighted up with a golden sheen, so soft and mellow that you could have seen a pin where the grass had been shorn away.

When they arrived at the edge of the woods in the centre of which was the resting-place of the birds, they tied their ponies to saplings, and then quietly walked on into the timber. As soon as they had come in the vicinity of the roost, they squatted on the ground behind the friendly shelter of a large elm, and waited for the coming of events.

They did not have long to wait. Before they had been there a half an hour, two large flocks came stealthily walking down the deep ravines leading into the sheltered bottom where great trees stood in thick clumps, under whose shadow were the unmistakable signs of an immense roost. At the head of each flock, as it unsuspiciously advanced, strutted a magnificent male bird in all the pride of his leadership. Upon his bronze plumage the moon's rays glinted like a calcium light, as its soft beams sifted through the interstices of the bare limbs of the winter-garbed forest.

When the leader of the flock had arrived at the spot where his charge had been accustomed to roost, he suddenly stopped, glanced cautiously around him for a few seconds, then apparently satisfied that all was right, he gave the signal--a sharp, quick, shrill whistle. At that instant, every bird, with one accord and a tremendous fluttering of wing, raised itself and alighted in the topmost branches of the tallest trees.

In a few moments more, numerous flocks having settled themselves for a peaceful slumber, the old trapper said to the boys: "Now is our time; let's begin!"

Joe had his little Ballard rifle, that had never yet played him false on his hunts with the chief of the Pawnees; Rob had a shot-gun, and Mr. Tucker his never-failing old-fashioned piece which he had carried for twenty-five years.

They fired at first almost simultaneously, but after the first discharge each fired on his own hook. The turkeys fell like the leaves in October. The birds not killed at the first fire did not seem to have sense enough, as Mr. Tucker had said, to escape from their doom. They flew from tree to tree at every shot, persistently remaining in the immediate vicinity of the roost, with all the characteristic idiocy of the sage hen.

When it was time to think of going home, they gathered up their birds, and found they had killed fourteen--more than an average of four apiece. It was all they could do to pack the birds on their ponies, and they were compelled to walk them all the way to the ranche to keep the birds from falling off.

The next morning Joe took the turkeys to Fort Harker, where he disposed of them at a fair price, and received many thanks besides, for his prompt action in response to Colonel Keogh's request to go hunting for them.