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Weimer, John F. (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XXIII, Number 6 (April 1924)

Stinchfield, Roswell H.
Bayou Billy,   p. 10

Page 10

Bayou Billy
Which Shows That the Tragic and Comic Find Their Places Even in the Life
of a Big Mallard Drake
DUSK was settling over the shallow
D     lake.  The chill wind that was
shifting into the northeast bore
hints of storm. It was late fall, and the
stillness all about was cheerless and
melancholy. No frogs lent their con-
tented croaks to the last drowsy chirps
of marsh birds, as in the spring. No
crickets sang merry little tunes for
dancing fireflies, as in the summer.
Bayou Billy, the big Mallard drake,
bobbed about uneasily. Two or three
times he had settled himself in a
cove formed by two overhanging bushes
which he had chosen for shelter. With
his head tucked snugly under his good
wing, he had tried to forget his anx-
iety. But each time the nervous, slendS.
er neck with its irridescent crown re-
appeared and craned in a longing survey
of the South.
Almost three weeks had elasped since
the little "V" which the drake had so
proudly headed had wound its startled
flight in that direction. He had come to
the surfaee of the water just in time to
see them disappear into the distant blue
haze. The same sense of utter loneli-
ness returned as he recalled their going
and his vain efforts to follow. For Bayou
Billy, crafty old leader that he was, had
fallen victim to a sportsman's careful
The days which had followed, although
painful, had not been so lonely. Many
ducks had come to the lake, and he had
often been able to join some flock in
the early morning or late evening in
their joyous scramble for food.  And
the departure of each flock had left him
spent and weary from his attempts to
join them.
But no ducks came to the lake now.
It was the middle of November, and he
knew that most of them were already in
their southern feeding  grounds.  He
could picture them in happy throngs
puddling about in the ooze which yielded
so many tempting morsels, and basking
in the sunshine of the many bayous and
coves along the gulf coast. He was not
with them, perhaps never would be
again. The long gash in his right leg
had nearly healed, and the soft flesh at
the bar of his right wing had scarred
over. But the three primary wing
feathers which the bullets had ripped
out, of course, had not grown again,
and he was unable to fly. He could
raise himself from the water, only to
OPEN the garden gate, walk in,
my heart;
What pleasant herbs are
these that sweetly smell?
Must I return from whence I did
The harsh, loud, crying world I
bade farewell.
The garden shines with blossoms
of delight,
The Lamb of God walks whitely
through the grass,
Here with this little volume,
quaintly bright,
I open gardens for my heart to
Whose are those blessed figures
'clad in light?
What are the crimson flowers like
raptures burning
Among the sacred lillies, cold and
Guiding my feet to paths of peace
Ah, blessed A'Kempis, proxy for
that One
Who is the Holy Garden's sacred
He walks among your lilies, God's
loved Son
Who is the Father and the Holy
Open the garden gate, walk in,
my heart!
What fires of peace! what sacred
paths we took;
Enter the Heavenly Gardens, nor
See, they are opened by a little
cut a small circle and fall again with a
sickening thud.
There had been plenty of feed, and he
had been unmolested by other sports-
men, for the lake was a lonely one, far
from human habitation. But now in-
stinct told him that the chill wind bore
no friendliness. The morning before he
had awakened to find tiny shafts of ice
in the water about him.
When at last the deepening shadows
obscured the opposite shore line and
the sky had taken on that murky smok-
iness, impenetrable even to the keen eye
of the wild fowl, Bayou Billy settled
himself for the night.
In ironic contrast to the tragic des-
pair which was settling upon this noble
leader a keen exhilaration in the same
elements was Causing the blood to course
warmly in the veins of another denizen
of the wild.
The shadows and chill wind which had
crowded Boyou Billy into his uneasy
rest were awakening and stirring into
action a beautiful, dark-furred mink liv-
ing under an old stump on the east
shore. His little mate snuggled her
warm body close to him as he stretched in
their cczy nest. But he was hungry. It
was a good feeling and set his whole
body a tingle. He raised his sleek head
and then gracefully crawled over the
edge of the nest and slipped into the
cold water below. A few seconds later
two greedy, bright eyes and a sharp
nose appeared at the surface, piercing
the gloom for sight or scent of anything
which might satisfy his growing ap-
Nothing was in sight, and the mink
struck out, swimming near to shore
with his head turned so that he could
keep watch for any movement in the
reeds or marshy grasses.
Bayou Billy's head shot up into the
blackness as if it had been on the end
of a powerful spring. Why he had been
so startled he did not know. Perhaps
it was just the uneasiness which he had
felt all that day. was the
strange ripple, ever so gentle, that had
swayed his bouyant body. He listened
with every muscle taut. Unmistakably
(Continued on page 21)

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