Tall flagstaffs, 60 or 80 feet high, surmounted by emblematical figures or representations of the Brahminy duck, float their long streamers in the wind, while the sound of tinkling bells descends from the "tis" with which every pinnacle is crowned.
The mergansers have narrow, hooked, saw-toothed beaks quite unlike those of the sheldrakes, and their habits are entirely dissimilar. The brahminy ducks, although rather tough, are not bad eating. We usually found them feeding in fields not far from the river or in flooded rice dykes, and very often sitting in pairs on the sand banks near the water.
Cloud after cloud of ducks rose as we neared the pond and circled high above our heads, but now and then a straggling mallard or "pin tail" would swing across the sky within range; as my gun roared out the birds would whirl to the ground like feathered bombs or climb higher with frightened quacks if the shot went wild. An hour before dark the brahminy ducks began to come in.
Do you mean one of those Brahminy geese upon the lake? We might catch one alive, it is true; but let me tell you, brother, that their wings are constructed just strong enough to carry their own ponderous bodies; and if you added another pound or two, by tying a cord to their legs, they could no more mount out of this valley than we can. No no. I fancy we may as well give up that idea.
Often might it be heard twanging among the trees; and as often did the shikaree's arrow pierce the breast of some fine bird a peacock, or argus pheasant, or one of the beautiful Brahminy geese that frequented the waters of the lake. Ossaroo's nets and lines, too, were not without their use.
The cows, unlike the noble Tanganyika ones, are small and short-horned, and are of a variety of colours. They carry a hump like the Brahminy bull, but give very little milk.
Whether they would choose to go fishing with Ossaroo's net, and have fish for their dinner, or whether they would try for another peacock, or an argus pheasant, or a brace of Brahminy geese; or whether they would take to the woods and search for grander game, had not become a decided point; when an incident occurred that settled the question, as to what they were to have for dinner.