The Czech

He’s probably a hundred years old, but it’s hard to say for sure. There’s a language barrier, so you can’t just ask him.

Slim and proper, proud and sturdy, but a little frail too. Certainly lighter than the young bucks of today, with less meat on his bones. He was formed in leaner times.

Formal in his dress, as befits a man of his era, age and standing. A little down at the heel though, with scars and scrapes that attest to his character and a long life well lived – clearly not a hard scrabble sharecropper, but not a drawing-room dandy either. More along the lines of a dignified gentleman of means with an adventurous past.

Double barrels aligned like friends hunting a hedgerow, side by side, each backing the other with their own independent trigger, amiably, for a century. Just enough gold ornamentation and skillful scrollwork to set off his clean, practical lines and lend an upscale air. Never gaudy.

Wood a gentle timeworn brown, with checkering smoother at the fore end than the stock. Two clues — the too sharp checkering at the wrist and the welded tang under the trigger – indicate the stock is prosthetic, added to replace a limb lost in a calamitous fall afield. Handsome though, and well done, and as functional as the original must have been, even if it is a centimeter too short. A gentle reminder he’s European and not from around here. A gentleman traveler of the world.

As befits a guest, he is treated to his choice of victuals and prefers sixteen gauge fives or sixes, not too spicy, and never steel; it causes heartburn in old barrels, you know.

Weather is a deciding factor in planning his time afield. These days he elects not to go out in the damp, or to visit the rough and tumble chukar hills, preferring crisp dry days on level ground. In deference to his age I am happy to comply, though I maintain he would be an excellent chukar companion.

He just smiles, a twinkle in his eye, remembering how he wound up with a new stock all those years ago…

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