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William Chapman
November 25, 1963
A hunter's recollection of a Sioux Indian, an Irish lord and his own good luck
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November 25, 1963

Two Doubles A World Apart

A hunter's recollection of a Sioux Indian, an Irish lord and his own good luck

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At night I went to parties that were full of hidden heartbreak for lads of the local Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders who were leaving at 4 o'clock in the mornings, clanging down the cobbled streets in their iron-tipped boots. When they neared the dock the blood-chilling pipes would blast through the predawn. After brave and fearless farewells they would be gone across The Minch toward a future that led to Dunkirk.

I saw much of Ilsa. Once we went on a long bicycle ride, taking our lunch and resting below the sheltering rocks above the sheep meadows. Everyone said it was the most glorious autumn in memory. I asked Ilsa what her plans were for the future. She pointed off toward the Eye Peninsula, a green tongue with the sea's lacy edge around it.

"You see those four old houses down in the end," she replied, squinting her sea-green eyes against the sun and her shiny black hair flashing in the wind gusts. "Well, when I marry I want to live with my husband in that house farthest out and be as good a wife as a woman can be forever and ever. In the meantime, until you have to go to wherever you have to go, I would like to be your love."

Nearly every morning of this month, Lord Lochamilton came flapping into the hotel, frothing lightly at the mouth and asking unanswerable questions. He avoided me generally, except to turn a beastly scowl on me now and then because Reggie had told him that I was a newspaper writer. In his younger days in London the press had given lots of space to his flamboyant life, such as the time he and some chums tried out the nonsinkable ocean-travel suit in a bathtub in Claridge's and the water gushered its way down through the dining-room ceiling.

One midmorning Lochamilton came in with a brace of beautiful salmon and some golden plover, a gift for Reggie and the Sassenachs.

"Everybody come over to the castle this afternoon," he flapped, and "we'll have a jolly good shoot." He gave me a dirty look as if to say, "Of course, I don't mean you."

"What is it, Mibsy?" Reggie asked.

"Snipe, lots of 'em, lots of 'em, and some ducks," Lochamilton babbled.

When it was time to go, Reggie insisted that I go along. I did reluctantly, only after Pierce and Emery had insisted, too. When we got to the broken marshland back of the castle, Reggie hung a bag of shells around my neck and Emery thrust a gun into my hands. Soon I was in line along with six others, heading toward the marshy ground. We had picked up Millicent and Ilsa, who walked behind, and their easy girlish laughter added much to the affair, so far as I was concerned.

As we moved forward I realized that the worst thing imaginable had happened. I was between Mibsy and Captain Cathers, the No. 1 navy man. He was a solemn, no-nonsense sea dog, and it was evident that here was a moment set up for me to do something superbly stupid.

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