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said to be eliminated in our case. Far from it. Indeed in all dredging there is a good deal of the gambling element. You scrape and scrape for hours perhaps, and are rewarded in the end by a boat-load of mud. Then as you turn despairingly homewards, you let down the dredge for one last scrape, and up comes that long looked-for Sertularia, or that Conchifera that you have hitherto only known by a single valve in a friend's collection! And yet when you return next morning, having carefully taken the bearings, again you scrape and scrape and take nothing, or nothing worth the having. Still, allowing for all drawbacks, few methods of pursuing natural history appear to me to combine so many advantages. There is—to some minds at least-an allurement even in this very uncertainty, and, unlike other branches of zoology, it has the great merit of being practically inexhaustible, since dredge when you will, and where you will, and as long as you will, you may be very sure that you will not exhaust—nay, you will not lay bare a hundredth part, or a hundred-thousandth part of the inexhaustible treasures of the sea.
And now, before proceeding to work, a word as to our dredging ground. The Killary bay or barbour (for it seems to be indifferently called one and the other) is a long and exceedingly narrow lane of water dividing the counties Mayo and Galway, and it is at its mouth I propose our first haul be made. Strictly speaking, the Killary is neither a bay nor a harbour, but a true fiord—the best specimen of one perhaps to be found in the kingdom. Fiords, as the reader will hardly need to be told, are not limited to Norway. The Scotch sea lochs many of them are excellent examples, and others might be pointed out along the coast. At the same time every bay, and even every narrow bay, is not a fiord; indeed it seems doubtful whether the sea under any circumstances is equal to the task of scooping one out single-handed.
fact be described as a deep narrow valley or glen, partly open, partly submerged, the water as a rule being deeper within the glen than at the mouth, a fact which alone wonld go far to prove that it had not been excavated by the sea. In Norway many of the valleys which stretch back from the heads of the fiord will be found, if followed up, to end in glaciers. That our little Killary fiord does not end in a glacier at present is obvious, but that it has once so ended becomes on examination scarcely less so, and wherever the upper coating of grass, earth, and stones is removed, there the traces of its presence and the marks of its graving tools are to be seen.
Walking along the shore (a matter, by the way, of no little difficulty), we find that in several places they end in low cliffs, or rather banks of drift, out of which the stones and pebbles protrude. These -stones and pebbles are not ranged symmetrically, but rather what may be called no how-like currants and raisins, say, in a slice of plum-cake-big above, little below, without any particular order or sequence. Underneath the ground is littered with similar stones,
A fiord may
washed down, not by the sea, but by the slow steady action of running water. In fact the part played by the sea in the shaping of this glen has been but
We meet with no cliffs (these tiny drift escarpments hardly deserving the name); no heavy beaches of rolled stones; none of the thousand and one signs of ravage and ruin which we encounter elsewhere along this wave-tormented shore. Here and there the rocks break abruptly down towards the edge, and here and there streams have worn long jagged watercourses : elsewhere the heath-covered bill-sides, dotted with squares of grass, and streaked with long dark lines of boulders, rise upwards at varying angles of incline from a few feet above high-water mark to the cloud-crowned summits above. This absence of cliffs, and indeed of most of the ordinary signs of sea action, is a marked feature of all fiords. Mr. Geikie, in his Great Ice Age, points out that although the shores of many of the Norwegian fiords are thickly strewn with rocks, these on examination will generally be found to be, not waveworn but angular, showing that they have been dislodged rather by the action of ice than by that of the sea, while small buildings, perched on piles rising out of the water, will stand for years, the strength of the waves being insufficient to dislodge them.
Not one of the least charms of our own little Killary is its position with regard to the sunset. Facing as it does nearly due west, with a slight incline to the north, the effect, at least from the southern bank, is as if the mountains to right and left were simply so many frames or bastions set there specially with a view to enhance its splendours. Here night after night for several consecutive summers a show-nay, rather a succession of shows—used to be set out for our delectation. Literally night after night, for it is a remarkable, and moreover an extremely exasperating fact, that in Connemara, as throughout the west of Ireland, the sunset appears to bear uncommonly little reference to the weather which has either preceded or is about to follow it. All day perhaps it has rained—incessantly, pitilessly-not a break in the clouds, not a momentary intermission of the unrelenting downpour. Suddenly, about half an hour before sunset, the scene changes. The clouds draw back and begin to dispose themselves more becomingly to right and left; deep blue spaces appear in the upper sky, paling into green, and passing gradually into all the reds and yellows of sunset. After the sun has gone, long level lines of crimson appear above the horizon. Later a moon rises, clear and serene, as in a world from which all storm and rain have vanished for ever. You go to bed remarking cheerfully that the weather at last seems to have come to its senses, and next morning you spring up, full of hope, to find—that it is raining harder than ever; that the whole landscape is blurred and blotted with mists; that at least two new leaks have sprung in the roof, and that all chance of settled weather seems a good deal further off than before !
Under these circumstances there is but one thing to be done, and that is to avail oneself of every hour, and, if possible, of every minute which the caprice of the sky allows. Imagine us then, reader, starting off to dredge on a fine afternoon late in the month of July : it has rained in the morning, but the rain is now over ; the glass has gone up, and for the next four or five hours we may count on a continuance of fine weather.
From our starting-point on the south bank to the edge of the shore is but a few steps, but the tide is low, and we have a considerable beach of shingle and loose stones to cross before reaching the boat. Up to the brink of high-water mark grow the grass and heather, notably the St. Dabeoc heath, whose silver-lined leaves and large pink bells seem rather to enjoy coming within reach of a dash of spray. Unlike its gregarious kindred, the St. Dabeoc grows chiefly in scattered companies, here mingling with the tufts of thyme, there cropping up in the midst of the Osmunda. As we pass we notice that the bumble-bees have already been at work. Every corolla is punctured with a hole; some with two; others lie scattered about on the ground, and all are more or less scratched and scored with the rough tarsi, which have little regard for its delicate waxen loveliness. Our boatmen are waiting, but still we linger, curious to see if anything comes to make use of the holes. Presently a 'Gamma' moth comes sidling up, and begins insinuating its tongue into the top of one of the corollas : but either dissatisfied with the contents, or not liking our neighbourhood, presently darts off, the silver y upon its wings gleaming resplendent as it goes. Next a bumble-bee comes booming along, and without even going through the form of applying at the proper entrance, makes straight for the hole at the side, where it begins feloniously robbing the honey, keeping up a low and evidently dissatisfied hum the while. Presently out it comes, and, with a louder and a yet more disgusted buzz, flies off; blundering first into a patch of Ragged Robin,' whose pink colour has for the moment misled it. While we watch to see if it discovers its mistake, a bee hawk-moth passes us like a flash, and the next moment is hovering with vibrating wings and outstretched tongue over a patch of trefoil. An invitation what entomologist could resist? And in spite of being only armed with our hats and a landing net, we are away in pursuit : up hill and down dale, our prey allowing us to come just within arm's length, and then, with a few rapid evolutions of its wings, soaring away yards out of our reach. This by the way, you perceive, is one of the inconveniences of natural history. You start with the fullest intention of pursuing one branch, and lo! another calls you away, and leaving the first you follow the secondperhaps to find on your return that the moment for the original one
At last, however, we are off. All the pots, pans, and bottles are in.
So too is the case of smaller bottles destined to hold the more fragile of our prey. The rope lies coiled at our feet, and we are being rowed away to our dredging ground a mile or so nearer to the mouth of the harbour. Opposite us rises the tall form of Mweelrea and its big brother peaks, all with thin scarfs of mist streaming lightly away from their topmost crags. Other and denser clouds are slowly issuing out of the great chasm which yawns half way up the slope, and away, far down at the end of the bay, a great solid-looking white bar stretches across the mountains above Aasleagh, touching the shoulders of the Devil's Mother, and losing itself amongst the intricacy of peaks and lower summits beyond. Yet the day is fine, the offing though grey is clear, and as we steer out further and further into the centre of the harbour, one by one the long grey line of the Twelve Pins, hitherto invisible, rises into sight, their glistening cliffs of quartzite undimmed by the smallest symptom of mist or haze. this point the circle of mountains is for the moment complete; the Mweelrea group leading to those beyond Doolough; these in their turn to those above Aasleagh, whence, viâ Maum-Turk and the hills of Joyce country, we arrive at the Twelve Pins; a narrow space, barely three quarters of a mile across, being left for the entrance into the harbour. Upon the nearer slope a broad rusty-black circle shows where the heather has lately been fired. Close to the edge of this lies a small group of shielings, a couple of ash trees rising in their midst. There are twenty houses perhaps or more in the group, but evidently only one occupied,-a single thin blue whiff of smoke rising in the still air and floating slowly out to seaward.
But our dredging ground is reached ; a mile or so short at the entrance of the harbour, and close under the shelter of Mweelrea, which, by the way, has now lost all semblance to a mountain, a few hundred yards of steep bank, shaggy with heather, and riddled with fissures, being all that is visible above the edge of the shore. Here then the order is given to halt; our men rest, well content, upon their oars; the boat, abandoned to its own devices, bobs restlessly up and down, the small waves lifting its bows before hurrying on to fling themselves against the seaweed lolling brown and tangled from the rocks beyond.
Bringing the dredge up to the level of the boat edge, we look first carefully to our rope-coils previously to lowering it overboard. Nothing in dredging is so fatal as too scant a supply of rope. If
. not three times, or nearly three times, as long as the distance between surface and bottom, the dredge, on being lowered, instead of scraping, gives a series of hops, coming up consequently nearly as empty as it went down. To-day, however, all precautions have been taken ; seventy or eighty yards of rope lie coiled at the stern, Lower away! The dredge sinks, rapidly changing to a delicate peagreen as the water closes over it; then vanishes—the rope running rapidly out between our hands the while. Fortunately, with a wellconstructed Ball's dredge there is no danger of its turning over, or rather it is not of the smallest consequence which side comes uppermost, since, unlike those used by the oyster dredgers, both lips are flattened, so that however it falls it is safe to scrape. The meshes of the net dwindle too as they approach the point, consequently, any object, no matter how small, is certain to be picked up and brouglit to the surface. Gradually the tension slackens, showing that the dredge has reached the bottom. We continue to pay out another dozen or two of rope; then, with a twist round the thwarts, the line is made fast, the men take to their oars, and we row slowly away towards the entrance, the rope being all the while carefully looked to in case of the dredge showing any inclination to foul.
With a contrary tide it is sometimes hard work, even for a couple of men, to pull against a dredge, especially, of course, where the bottom is unusually rough or muddy. In sailing, on the other hand, there is always this danger, that should the dredge stick fast it is hardly possible to put about in time to hinder its being carried away. The golden rule is to go slowly; in sailing especially it is hardly possible to go too slowly. Also it is not a bad plan, especially over rough ground, to have a float or piece of wood fastened to the end of the rope so as to be able to fling the whole thing overboard at the first intimation of mischief. Unfortunately, however, this seldom comes in time, especially if we have any way on, as then the pull of the rope is always so strong that an extra strain is at first hardly noticed, and probably the first hint you get is when the rope parts close under the stern, or a total cessation of strain causes you hastily to draw it up—when there is found to be no dredge at the other end !
In eve rule of this kind much of course depends upon the nature of the bottom. Where sands spread unbroken for hundreds of miles and the soundings are known to an inch, greater liberties may be taken ; but on a coast as cross-grained as this, where every storm more or less alters the bottom, it is as well to stick to the oars unless we are prepared either to give the land a wide berth, or else to have a relay of dredges ready in case of accidents.
Meanwhile we have run our quarter of a mile, and may begin to haul in, one of the men remaining at the oars so as to hinder the boat from slipping backwards. Rapidly the wet coils accumulate under our hands; up and up steadily, but as yet no sign of our dredge. At last far down a pale green mass appears, rapidly approaching nearer. This is the exciting moment! What if at the very last the rope gives way, and the freight is returned to the bottom just as it seemed within our grasp ? Instinctively arms are bared and hands outstretched to help it over the edge. Another moment, and it is safe on board. A piece of wood, specially brought for the purpose,,