(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Aleck Maury’s love for hunting and fishing begins in childhood. At the age of eight, Aleck goes coon hunting with Rafe, a black handyman at the Maury household. Not long after, a mill owner named Jones takes the boy fishing and encourages his lifelong love for that sport. Aleck is always happiest when he is out in the fields. One of five children, he is reared by his oldest sister after his mother dies. Until he is ten years old, he is educated at home by his father, who puts great stress upon the classics and teaches his children nothing else.

At the age of ten, Aleck goes to live at Grassdale with his Uncle James and Aunt Victoria Morris and their son, Julian. There, his education is broadened under the tutelage of Aunt Victoria, a learned woman. Aleck’s life at Grassdale is pleasant, centering chiefly on sport.

When Aleck graduates from the University of Virginia, he has a classical education but no plans for making a living. He tries several jobs. He clears out a dogwood thicket for a set sum of money; he works on a construction project on the Missouri River, in the city engineer’s office in Seattle, and as a day laborer on a ranch in California. While working at the ranch, he contracts typhoid fever and is sent back east, as far as Kansas City, to stay with some relatives there. At last, through the efforts of his family, Aleck becomes a tutor at Merry Point, the home of Mr. Fayerlee, near Gloversville, Tennessee.

Aleck, living with the Fayerlees, becomes the local schoolmaster for the children of most of the landowners in the area. Aleck’s first interest, however, is not in the school or the students he teaches but in the possibilities for fishing and hunting.

During his stay with the Fayerlees, Aleck falls in love with Molly Fayerlee, and in 1890, they are married. They continue to live with the Fayerlees, and Aleck continues to teach school. During his first year of marriage, Aleck acquires the pup Gyges, a small but thoroughbred bird dog. He trains Gy from a puppy and becomes greatly attached to him. The next fall, Aleck’s son, Richard, is born. Two years later, Sarah, nicknamed Sally, is born. They all continue to live at Merry Point.

When Richard is seven, Aleck is offered the presidency of a small seminary in Mississippi, and over the protestations of the Fayerlee family, the Maurys leave Merry Point. On the way, while spending the night in Cairo, Aleck loses Gy. The dog is never heard of again. They continue their journey to Oakland and the seminary. When Aleck arrives, he finds that the school is running smoothly under the able direction of Harry Morrow, his young assistant, who is interested in administration rather than teaching. A few months after arriving at Oakland, Aleck acquires an untrained...

(The entire section is 1137 words.)