Micah’s eye was at his rifle. A crack and a whizz in the air. The noble creature gave one mighty bound and fell dead. The ball had entered his broad forehead and penetrated to the brain.
At the report of the rifle, the doe, who was still drinking, gave a bound in the air, scattering the spray from her dripping mouth, wheeled with the rapidity of lightning, and sprang towards the gorge. But John’s instantaneous shot sped through the air and the animal fell dead from her second bound, the ball having entered the heart. In the midst of their triumph, John and Micah watched, with relenting eyes the two hinds, while they took, as on the wings of the wind, their forlorn flight up the fatal pathway.
Having slung their booty on the boughs of a wide-branching tree, and taken some refreshment from the supplies in the canoe, Micah declared himself good for a scramble up the hill to the feeding-ground, a proposition John readily accepted.
Over rock, bush and brier, up hill and down, for five hours, they pursued their way with unmitigated zeal and energy. They scaled the hill, cut by the gorge,—approaching, cautiously, its brow, overlooking the deer haunt. But they could perceive no trace of the herd.
“It’s abeout as I expected”, said Micah, “them two little hinds we skeered, gin the alarm to the rest on ’em and they’ve all skulked off to some covit or ruther. S’pose Captin’, we jest make a surkit reound through the rest of these hills, maybe we’ll light on ’em agin”.
“Agreed”, responded John.
They skirted the enclosure, but without a chance for another shot. As, about noon, they were rapidly descending the gorge, on their way back to the promontory, the scene of their morning success, Micah proposed that they should have “a nice brile out of that fat buck at the pint, and then put for the settlement”.
“Not yet”, said John. “Why, we are just getting into this glorious life. What’s your hurry, Mummychog?”
“Well, ye see”, said Micah, “I can’t be gone from hum, no longer neow, any heow. Next week, I’ll try it with ye agin, if ye say so”.
John acceded reluctantly to the arrangement, though his disappointment was somewhat mitigated by the prospect of another similar excursion.
The meal prepared by Micah, for their closing repast, considering the circumstances, might have been pronounced as achieved in the highest style of art. Under a bright sky, shadowed by soft, quivering birch-trees, scattering broken lights all over their rustic table, never surely was a dinner eaten with greater gusto.
Life in the forest! ended all too soon. But thy memories live. Memories redolent of youth, health, strength, freedom, and beauty, come through the long years, laden with dews, sunshine, and fragrance, and scatter over the time-worn spirit refreshment and delight.
As our voyagers were paddling up stream in the afternoon, in answer to questions put by John to Micah, respecting the Dubois family, he remarked—