It was long since the game on this part of the mountain had been disturbed. Madam Doe had in all probability never seen a man before, therefore her behavior was not peculiar. A shock of surprise thrilled through her graceful body as she vented that snort, when she caught sight of the new-fangled gray animal who had intruded upon her world, and who sat spell-bound, gazing at her with hopeless eyes, in which gradually a light broke.
But she did not fear him,—this creature in gray. She stood stock-still, and stared at him, so near that he could see her wink her starry eyes, with the white rings round them. She stamped one hoof, kicked an insect from her ear with another, snorted again, wheeled around, and at last broke away for the thick shelter of the trees, lightly and swiftly as a breeze which skims from one thicket to another.
Seeing his mother go for the woods, her spotted fawn, which had been frolicking among the branches of the fallen spruce-tree, skipped from it, passed Dol with a bound which carried him a few feet, and disappeared like a whiff too.
Here was a rouser, indeed, which no boy, unless he was in a far-gone state of suffering, could withstand. Dol Farrar forgot his terrible predicament. The fog had cleared away from his senses, leaving him free to think and act once more.
“Well, I never!” he ejaculated, springing to his feet in amazement. “Wasn’t she a beauty? And wasn’t she a snorter? I didn’t think a deer could make such a row as that. And to stand still and stare at me! I wonder whether she took me for some new-fashioned sort of animal or a gray old stump.”
It was a few minutes before he again thought of his plight, and then he was not overcome. He stood perfectly still, trying to review the position coolly, and to get a tight grip of his feelings, so that terror might not again master him.
“I’m in a worse scrape than I ever dreamt of,” he muttered, puckering his forehead to do some tall thinking. “And I must do something to get out of it. But what? That’s the question.
“I wonder if I loaded this ‘ole fuzzee,’”—the lad was making a valiant effort to cheer himself by being jocular,—“and blazed away with it for a while like mad, whether there is any human being around who would hear me. Some fellow might be hunting or trapping in this part of the forest, or farther up the mountain. But what a blockhead I am! Why on earth didn’t I do that before I started on this wretched trail?”
But alas! as this was Dol Farrar’s first adventure in American woods, it had not occurred to him to do the right thing at the right time. Had he fired a round of signal shots when first he lost the line of spotted trees, he would probably have been heard at his camp, and would have been spared the worst scare he ever had in his life. The negligence was scarcely his fault, however; for Cyrus Garst, who had never before undertaken the responsibility