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A Night Among The Wolves

A Night Among The Wolves image
Parent Issue
Day
17
Month
August
Year
1860
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

"The p;iss wa steep and rugged, The wolves they howld and whined ; But h ran like a whirlwiud up the pass And ho left th wolvs bchind M - Macaula. 'Mike, what kind of a nijbt would. this be for fire-shooting?" said the Doe lor to that meditativa Nirnrod, who was busy sewing up a moccasin by the light of tho camp-fire, alter a week of travel"So, so,' replied Mik, without look. ing np. 'I iim going, I think." No answer. Mike put on the mend ed moccasin, and drevr off the other. 1 Do you thitik we can kill anythnjj?" '■S'pose," replied Mike "Come, Charhe, let us try for a little whilo." This was all ruse on the part of Poke, in order to make Miko think our great hunt was an unpremediluted affair, and thereby increaso tho gloiy ot killing so tnuuh game. It had been ar ranged between us duringtho ciay that we would trj fiie-hunting that night. It promised to be a clmidy night which was ol great advnntage, asit prevented the game irom seeing anything of the hunters. and at the saino time render their eyes more reflective whenexposed to the tore.hlight We had even gone so far as to tnakeonr pitoh pinetorche, and the wbole preparation was complete. It was a party of tvro - ihe ütctor and myself. There would be rather more interest in getting the frame alone; and besidwjs that, Miko's opinión on fire shooting was wull known, and we knew he would not go with us - so constant a hunter scorned so prirnitive a ehare as the one wo proposed. The negroes wö did not want, for the fewer io a party the better. ISo, one of us taking a gun, and the other carry ng a ton h, we left the camp. The boys were chucküng togethera? they watched uw go, the dogs howled ba. ausé they eould not go with us, and Mikö gave one of his expreivecuighs, thac said as plaiulr as words, "Nuw fruit." We wera soon outsid of the glare of tho camp fire, the little preek was crossed, and our torch flashed brightly on the taper trunks of the pine trees, the climbing vine, and the brad leafed plan'.s that grew by the pools of water. There was no wind, and walking ín the pine vvonds, their was no sound. Once in a long while a sandhill orane, dis turbed in hi wanderings, would be seen stalk:ng a ay, with his red head high in the air, like a sentinel on duty ; or the sudden inotion of the underbrush would teil UB that sorae one of the many little harlequins of the wood that gambol most when men do sleep, had fled from this uiiUBual sspectacle of a nioving light. But do dtior rtwarded our seareh ; no bear showed us his heavy coat. "Faith," said the Doctor, "tbis romantic promenade is getting somewbat long " "Think of the deer, one buck will wel! pay us." "Fudge I if there was no oue to laugh a U8. I would have turned back long ago. Give me the gun, and you take the light." Accordingly we changed positions - I going ahead, carrying the torch betore me, in tsush a manner that it would throw the light ahead as much as possible, and none on our person, and the Doctor received the gun, and took rny place directly behind and sbaded by my person. The night had becorne still darker, and a misty rain commenced f'ulling. We had left, the pine wooda, after wülking a couple of miles, and had come into a grr ve of lower timber - The long moss drooped in curt'iins, the odor of magnolias burdened the air, and evt-ry minute a denser corpse wo'd foree us to turn aside from our route. "Hush !" vvhispered the Doctor, sud denly, with a spasmodic pull at my coat tail, "there's a deer." I was just wondering at this absence ol deer, and eould not account for it as it was a rare thing to go a mile in Flor ida wi:hout seeing one. "Where?" I whispered ; "I don't eee it." "Huph! it, has gone now; but we will see it in a moment Hgain." We adv nced on tiptoe, both in bodyand expectation. '■Theie! there!" said the Doctor, pointing with his fineer a little d'stanoe to the left; but the lumin'tis spot was gono before I hnrdly got my oyes on it. We were in th? very place for n deer. A hea wind-fall lay a head of us, and the m;infled trunks snd twinterl h'-nnch B looked lik the ch raux Jefnsr to some great enonmpment. Tho fliokering light made the shadows move back with a speotral effect, as thotigh dancing, a-id the hush of tho forost was unbro ken by any sound. Evory moment I uxpecled to see agnin the two phosphoru'cent star that indioate.s tho deorn eyes.nnd thea the true shot would bring us the prize for our labor. It seemed a long time in OOtning aain. "That dear must be very shy," whispered the Doctor, just abovo bis breath. The next time 1 saw it first. It was sorne distant ahead, and there were two; just before I could pointthem out to my comrade, thoy had disappoared. Presently, we saw it on one side of uh ' Charlie, that's a will-o'-the wisp," aaid Poke, in rather a subdued tono, lior the devil; whn ever heard ol a deer going around so?" " He is exainining you to soe what inanner of man you are." "Porchance it is some spirit of a departed bucle, leading us a wild chase to destroy us." " There it is nght behind me, as 1 live 1" ejaculated the Drctor, in evident trepidation. 8ure enongh, a I turned my head, I aaw the two blue lights that indícate the refleetir.g lense to he eye. The Doctor was taking aim, but I noticed it was not very steady. He pulled the triggor - a dull snap announced a misa Bre. He pulled the othor trigger - it snapped in the same way. The gun was wet with rain. "Was anything evei'RO provoking I'1 said Poke, as thö eyes vanished in the darkneas. " If it is the devil he will have you now." " How can you talk so ?" said the Doctor, with a strong accent on the "can." "There is your deer, Poke, in the windfall," said I,as I caught sight of the eyes moving rapidly along over the mass of timber that lay heaped and knotted together. "That's no deer," said Poke ; "no cl oven foot could go over that windfall that way I would rather see the night huntsrnan of tho Hartz Mountains than see thoae eyes again." As he was speaking, I saw in the inky darknes ahead of us another pair of eyes, and two or three paira on the left The truth flashed (n me. The acarcïty of the deer, the proximity of the windtull, tha restlesaness of those baleful eyea, all gave me the clue - the wolves were around us. A word to Poke and the affuir was explained, and we stood still for consultaticn. We tried new caps on our gun, but it was of no U;e- the conei were gatumted with water. We turned toward the camp but in our confusión j we iorg 't the direction. To highten ! the rnisery of the scène, our torch was ftlmost burnt out; let that die and the rest could be easily divined We were s',anding at the time undor a grove of small pecan trees, and at that instant a low snort was heard from the shadow near ua, like the cough of a dos: Poke did not say a word, but, dropping the gun and scizinga limbof one of tho trees over his head, with an agility for which I had never given him the least cred't elevated himself to the roteb, about ten feot from the gronnd. I did not want to do anything of the kind of aerarte not; I would rather have placed my back against a tree, and won a glorious dëath in battle against my nurnerous foew ; but, alaok ! for a bad xample, I dropped the torch, that broke in pieees in falling, and clasping the nearest tree which happened to be a medium-sized ffum-tree, soon scrambled up to a place f safe'V. Looky it was for me that I had that torch in my hand, for when it feil. it lay mattered around the base of the tree, still fliokerirfff and flashing in the darkness, and the animáis that had surrou::ded u.=, as thuy saw their prey escaping, rushing fo'ward with an angry r-oise; they saw ihe glowing embers, and held back just lonar miough to pertnit my escape. As I drew mysalf up on the first lim' a rush of gratitude passed over my soul, and my feelings were as warm as a child's. . Nothing could be seen, for the somber forest simt out what little light there 'was in the atmosphere, but I heard the pattering of f eet beneath my fortress, like fnüing rain. Back and forward they came and went, and snorting sounds and champing teeth made the black night alive with imaginary shapes. I wondered how it fared with the Doctor, vet dared not cali, for tho uncortainty was less fearful than the reality might be. I pictured him fallen, dragged back from his half attained refuge, and divided among the hungry pack; and the very noise below migat be the mumbling of his bones, "While thcir whito tusks erunolied oVr his whitcr skull, Ai it slipp'd througU their jawa when thoir dg grew dull." At length I 8ummoned courage and called. "Poke !" ''Hulloa 1" was the response - more grateful to my ear than any sound in the world. "How are you, my boy ?" I called again. "Safe, thank the Lord." "What a disgraceful situation to be in, and how are we to get out of it ?" " I will be grateful if I can only keep in it ; for this tree is so small that the wolves can almost reach me when they jiimp ; and, as I climbed up, one caught my coat tail and toro it entirely o tl." "Gliinb up higher, then.1' "I can't ; the tree is so small that, whon I get any higher, it bends over and leta me down - oh doar !" " Haven't you your pistol with yon ? Try and shoot one, andit rnay friwhten them." "Oh, doar, no; there are hundrods of them. Just look at them below !" I looked dovvn, and surely I could fiee a drovo of them. They "were evidently the gray wolf; for. nspitoof the darkness, I could once in a while detect their raotioas from their light coatSi Poko sugested that they were phantom wolves, and declared they were all white. All the fuarful stories that I had ever read came coursing through my brain. I siw Biiow-buried buts snuffcd out and ravished by theso prawlers, aud heard the shriek of the child, thrown froni the sleigh by ita fear inaddeued mother, and many and old dream reshaped ia my luind the terrors of nights of fever. Wero we to be tired out by their düilish patience? Wap one gang to relieve another until we wecrily feil iuo tbeir Jiot-taiutod jawa, thiis to be Lui-ned iüto oblivioa? I I sboutcd in tho liopo tliat some one might hear me : but what good to sbout in tho inidnight forest ? I Tieard a voice - it was Poke saying bis prayers. I listened dovoutly, but could offer none niyself. When he had finished I called to him. He answered faintly - "What is itV speak quickly; I can't hold on mucb longer" "Pire your pistol; do try ; it mny briug some help, even if it doea not kill." "I will try," answered Poke. Thore was a momentary pauso, and then the sharp crack of a pistol was followed by tbe singing of a bullet close by my ear. By the flash I saw Poke, hatlcss and alraost coatless,hanging on to the topmost brancb. of a young pecan, tbat bent with him like an orange treo under a heavy load of fruit. With the report of the pistol tliere was a scramble among tbe voracious crew at our feet; but. they didnotgo away permauently, and wero back in a moment. "Fire the other barrel, dear Poke, but try and fire it fhe other way - point it down." Bang ! sounded the pistol, and I heard a thump on the ground, as the poor fellow threw away the now useless weapon. "Hold on, Poke ; take hcart, mj dear boy." "Oh, it is easy enough to say take heart, but when the tree bends a littlo moro than usual I ara within a foot of theso hell-hounds. Oh dear I" At this moment I thought I saw a light flasbing througb the foliage, A moment more, I was ure of it. "Where - where I Oh, dear, I oan't turn my head least I slip off," "There they come ; I seo them - three torches and men and dogs," "God blesa them !" I heard Puke say, faintly. I was afraid be was fainting. "Hold on. Poke," I said, and screaming to the men, I oalled them to hurry. On they carne at a run. I recogni.ed them aa they cartie up with their torches fiasjig through the woods; they were JacKson and bis men. He bad been in our camp only the day previous, and told us he had a sheep farm in this neighbrhood. "Quick, thiu way," I shouted, " the wolves I" He answered me How bleasdd a thing waa tbe sound of a human voice in our necessity. Tbey came under the trees we were in. "Hulloa, thero! where aro youl Where are the wolves?" he shouted in his stentorian tones. "Duro's he sheep I'm bin huntin' alt dis bressed night," exelairned a negro who accompanied Jackson on his search. I looked around, and there was Jackson'sbig flixk of sheep, star ng blandly at us up in the trees and to their mastei by turn. It hnd been thoir eyes we hads&en in the darkness. And there was Jackson see-sawing on a fallen tree, hiocoughingand laugh ing and mïng by torna; and there were the negroes, and they callod in the sheep, 'Holholhol Öh, lawa a maussy I did I ever - ho ! ho 1 ho ! ho ! wolves 1 Oh, laws a mausfy I" Poko slid down the tree he was in. piokinsr up his coat titil, thaf had been torn off by a broken limb in his hurried ascent, sighing ; "Oh, that I had tha wings of a dovel"