Page:Boys of the Fort.djvu/198

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180
BOYS OF THE FORT.

"I do not, captain."

"It's a panther, unless I am greatly mistaken."

"Where?"

"Lying on the fallen tree, behind that tall bush," and Captain Moore pointed with his hand.

As he did this the panther arose suddenly, then crouched down as if to make a leap at them.

"Shoot!" ordered the captain, and as quickly as the private could raise his rifle he fired. But his aim was poor, and the bullet flew a foot over the panther's head.

"Missed, hang the luck!" muttered Carwell.

Scarcely had the words left his lips, when the panther made a fierce leap and landed directly at the feet of the astonished pair. The beast was evidently very hungry, or it would not have attacked human beings in this semi-light of the early dawn.

Full of fear, Carwell staggered back, with his smoking rifle still in his hand.

The panther growled and switched its tail from side to side. The rifle shot had filled it with wonder, and it did not know what to do next.

"Be careful—he is going to take another leap!" cried the young captain.

He was right; the panther was now preparing for another spring. Before Carwell could get