For swimming pace, it was about an even match, and Minahane would have been laying the odds in another minute, but the old coot had a final weapon in its armory. With a flip of the tail, it submerged. Judy, head down for maximum streamlining, missed the disappearing act, kept on for a few yards then stopped swimming in anguished surprise. The coot bobbed up behind her, then dived again. Judy began paddling in circles, infuriated. Finally, the coot surfaced near the reeds on the far side, crashed into them and was never seen again.
Minahane rallied the hunters once more into good skirmishing order. "There's one more place we'll try," he said, "and that's the Carrigillihy bog. There's a power of snipe in it."
So there were, indeed. And there were also deep bog holes under a skim of ice, and the bog moss frozen into crystal patterns. In the last light of the day, against a red, mournful sun sinking toward the Derrynasaggart Mountains, the snipe broke out at all the fast crazy angles, as they can, the hardest shot of all, and Andr�, Ren�, Jean and Georges brought them down with brilliant accuracy, killing eight out of 10, maybe.
"I told you, didn't I," whispered Minahane fiercely. "They're all bloody mad, the lot of them. What were they doing all the time with coot and the plovers when they can shoot like that? They're not like me and you at all." He gazed at them in baffled wonderment.
Back at O'Keeffe's, the Frenchmen had one drink, then brought their luggage down. "We are off now to the County Kerry," Georges announced.
So the sparrows and skylarks could Start moving back again.
Mary poked her nose out of the kitchen. "We are leaving now, ma petite," said Andr�, blowing her a kiss.
She didn't say anything, but I'll swear she looked disappointed.