There issued from the white tent a man, who looked upward toward all the greenness and all the glory, and was glad.
He looked downward at the sward, and there was the little flower. And the dew had run its course, and had gathered in a jewel at the leaf’s tip, and there, fallen in the midst of the disk of yellow, was the product from the skies. There, in the flower’s heart, was the perfect gem—a diamond in a setting of fine gold!
“I’ve et hearty,” said the woman, saucily, as the breakfast, for which the birds furnished the music, was done. And then he initiated her into the brief art of washing tin things in the gravel at the water’s edge. Then he informed her that target practice was about to begin, and brought out four guns from their cases.
Two of the pieces were rifles, and of each kind one was a light and dainty piece. He said they would practice with the rifles; that when she became an expert rifle-shot the rest would all be easy, and then upon the boll of a tree at one side of the opening he pinned a red scrap of paper, and shot at it.
With the report half the scrap was torn away, and then he taught her how to hold the piece and how to aim.
She expressed, at last, a desire to shoot, and he gave her the little rifle loaded. She aimed swiftly and desperately, and pressed the trigger, and the echoes had not died away when she let fall the gun upon the grass.
“I’m hurt,” she said.
He sprang to her side, pale-faced, as she raised her hand to her shoulder, but he brightened a moment later. He opened the dress at her neck, and turned it down on one side, and there, on the round, white shoulder, was a slight ruddy bruise. He kissed it, and laughed.
“It’ll be all right in no time. Now, do as I tell you.”
He put a cartridge in the piece again.
“Try it once more,” he said; “aim more deliberately and hold the stock of the gun very tightly against your shoulder as you fire.”
“But it will hurt me.”
“No, it won’t. Do as I tell you.”
She would have obeyed him had he told her to leap into the lake, and the lake was deep.
She set her lips firmly, held the gun hard against her shoulder, aimed carefully and fired.
The red spot flew from the gray trunk of the oak. She looked up amazed.
“Why, it didn’t hurt me a bit!”
“Of course not. There is a law of impact, and you are learning it. The strongest man in the world could not hurt you pushing you against nothing. He could kill you with a blow. With the first shot your gun gave you a blow. In the second it could only push you. Listen to the wisdom of your consort!”
She made a mouth at him, and he told her she’d had her “baptism of fire,” and soon they sallied into the forest, hunting.