Much like time in the woods or in a stream help us to become stronger men, so did the character Van Weyden's time on the seal-hunting ship Ghost. Born an aristocrat, Van Weydon has little contact with reality until he is shipwrecked and then rescued by Captain Wolf Larsen. Aboard the boat Van Weyden learns the hard lessons under the merciless eye of Larsen. Though the situations are uncomfortable and the suffering great, Van Weyden emerges a better man in the story, learning to take durance and a good shot in the last paragraph, or should hunting fiction, like classical fiction, be judged by its adaptation of universal themes? In this respect let's consider one of my favorite works of hunting fiction, which is actually not a yarn at all but grand opera; DER FREISCHUTZ, by von Weber. In DER FREISCHUTZ, meaning the Free Shooter in German, or more loosely translated, the Good Marksman, the plot involves a series of shooting contests between local hunters and marksmen. In true romantic fashion the grand prize is the hand of a desirable maiden, as well as an important position. Without getting into the twists and turns of events, one of the contestants is so desperate to win that he makes a pact with the devil in classic Faustian fashion. This is a familiar theme of the human condition and one wonders how many of us might similarly risk our souls to bag a great trophy. In DER FREISCHUTZ the desperate contestant's contract with the devil allows him to make seven magic bullets, six of which will hit where they are aimed but one will hit where the devil commands. But which bullet is it? Now there is what I call a plot to be reckoned with.