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192
BOYS OF THE FORT.

The young officer was right. There on a shelf of rocks lay the wounded beast, its breath coming short and heavy, and its eyes letting out a glassy stare that caused the captain to shiver in spite of himself.

At the sight of a human being the panther tried to rise. But the effort was too much for it, and it sank down, groaning with pain, in a pool of blood which had formed.

At first Captain Moore thought to finish by putting a bullet through its head, but then he remembered that ammunition was scarce and lowered his rifle.

"He'll be dead by the time I get back," he thought, and continued on his way up the mountain side.

At last the top was gained, and he looked around eagerly. At first only the plain far below met his view, but presently he made out a spot which he knew must be the fort. But all was in a blue haze, and no details could be distinguished.

Having spent quarter of an hour on the mountain top he picked his way back to where he had left the panther. The creature had now breathed its last, and lay stiffened out on the rocky ledge.

"I must have something to eat, and so must Peck," he said to himself. "Panther steaks may