Page:Southern Life in Southern Literature.djvu/41

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23
WILLIAM ELLIOTT

chequered here and there by strips of myrtle and marsh mallows.

"So far, Geordy," said I, "we have kept one track; now let us separate. The hounds are out of hearing, and we have little chance of any game but such as we may rouse without their help. How delightfully sheltered is this spot! how completely is it shut-in by that semicircle of woods from the sweep of the northwest winds! How genially the sun pours down upon it! Depend upon it, we shall find some luxurious rogues basking in this warm nook, for, next to your Englishman, a deer is the greatest epicure alive! Now, then, by separate tracks let us make across the old field; a blast of the horn will bring us together when we reach the marsh."

By separate tracks then we moved, and had not advanced two hundred yards, when crack went Geordy's gun. I looked in the direction of the report, and his head only was visible above the sea of marsh mallows. The direction of his face I could see, and that was pointed toward me. Toward me, then, thought I, runs the deer. I reined in my horse and turned his head in that direction. It was such a thickly woven mass of mallows and myrtle—high as my shoulders as I sat in the saddle—that there was little hope of being able to see the game. I trusted to my ear to warn me of his approach, and soon heard the rustling of the leaves and the sharp, quick leap which mark the movement of a deer at speed. I saw him not until he appeared directly under my horse's nose, in act to leap; he vaulted, and would have dropped upon my saddle had he not seen the horse while yet poised in air, and, by an effort like that of the tumbler who throws a somersault, twisted him self suddenly to my right. He grazed my knee in his descent; and as he touched the earth I brought my gun down, pistol-fashion, with a rapid twitch, and sent the whole charge through his backbone. It was so instantaneous—so like a flash of