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Miscellany: A Wolf Chase: A Thrilling And Graphic Sketch

Miscellany: A Wolf Chase: A Thrilling And Graphic Sketch image
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Miscellany. A Wolf Chase. During the winter of 1844, being engaged in the northern part of Maine, I had much leisure to devote to the wild sports of a new country. To none of these was I more passionately addicted than to skating. The deep and sequestered lakes of this Northern State, frozen by intense cold, present a wide field to the lovers of this pastime. Often would I bind on my rusty skates, and glide away up the glittering river, and wind each mazy streamlet that flowed on towards the parent ocean, and feel my pulse bound with the joyous exercise. It was during one of these excursions that I met with an advenure which even, at this period of my life, I review with wonder and astonishment. I had left my friend's house one evening just before dusk with the intention of skating a short distance up the noble Kenebeck, which glided directly before the door. The evening was fine and clear. - The new moon peered from her lofty seat, and cast her rays on the lofty pines that skirted the shore, until they seemed the realization of a fairy scene. All naure lay in a quiet which she sometimes chooses to assume. Water, air and earth seemed to have sunk into repose. I had gone up the river nearly two miles, when coming to a little stream, which empties into the larger, I turned in to explore its course. Fir and Hemlock of a century's growth met overhead, and formed an archwny radiant with frostwork. All was dark within; but I vas young and fearless, and as l peered into an unbroken forest that reared itself to the borders of the strearn, I laughed in very joyousness. My wild hurrah rang hrough the silent woods, and I stood listening to the echo that reverberated again and again until all was hushed. - Occasionally a night bird would flap its wings from some tall oak. The mighty lords of the forest stood as if naught but time could bow them. I thought how often the Indian hunter concealed himself behind these very trees, )ow oft the arrow had pierced the deer by his very stream, and how oft his wild hallo had rung for his victory. I watched the owls as they flitted by, until I almost fancied myself one of them, and held my breath to listen to their distant hooting. Suddenly a sound arose. It seemed from the very tide beneath my feet; long and tremulous at first, until it ended in one wild yell. I was appalled. Never before had such a noise met my ears. I thought it more than mortal, so fierce, and amid an unbroken solitude, that it seemed as if a fiend from hell had blowed a blast from an infernal trumpet. Presidently I heard the twigs on shore snap, as if from tread of animals, and the blood rushed back to my forhead with a bound that made my skin burn, and I felt relieved hat I had to contend with things earthly, and not of a spiritual mould. My energies returned, and I looked around me for some means of defence. The moon shone through the opening by which I entered the forest and considering this the best means of escape I darted through it like an arrow. Twas hardly a hundred yard distant, and the swallow could scarcely excel my desperate flight - yet, as I turned my head to the shore, I could see two dark objects dashing through the underbrush, at a pace nearly double that of my own. By their great speed, and the short yells which they occasionally gave, I knew at once that they were the much dreaded grey wolf. I had never met with these animals, but from the description given of them I had but little pleasure in making their acquaintance. Their untamable fierceness and untiring strength, which seems a part of their nature, rendered them objects of dread to every benighted traveler. With their long gallop, which can tire The deer-hound's hate, the hunter's fire, they pursue their prey, and nought but death can separate them. The bushes that skirted the shore flew past with the velocity of lightning, as I dashed on my flight. The outlet was nearly gained; one second more and I would be comparatively safe, when my pursuers appeared on the bank directly above me, which here rose to the height of about 10 feet. There was no time for thought, so I bent my head and dashed madly onward. The wolves sprang, but miscalculating my speed, sprang behind, while their intended prey glided out into the river. Nature turned me towards home. - The light flakes of snow spun from the iron of my skates, and I was some distance from my pursuers, when their fierce howl told me I was still their fugitive. - l did not look back; I did not feel afraid or sorry, or glad; one thought of home, of the bright faces awaiting my return, of their tears if they never should see me, and then every energy of body and mind was exerted for escape. I was perfectly at home on the ice. Every half minute an alternate yelp from my fierce attendants made me but too certain that they were in close pursuit. Nearer and nearer they came; I heard their feet pattering on the ice nearer still, until I fancied that I could hear their deep breathing. - Every muscle in my frame was stretched to the utmost tension. The trees along the shore seemed to dance in the uncertain light, and my brain turned with my own breathless speed, yet still they seemed to hiss with a sound truly terrible, when an involuntary motion on my part turned me out of my course. The wolves close behind, unable to stop, and as unable to turn, slipped, fell, still going on far ahead, their tongues were lolling out, their white tusks glaring from their bloody mouths, their dark, shaggy breasts were fleeced with foam, and as they passed me their eyes glared and they howled with fury. The thought lashed on my mind that I could avoid them, viz: by turning aside whenever they came too near; for they by the formation of their feet, are unable to run on ice, except on a straight line. I immediately acted upon this plan. - The wolves having regained their feet sprang directly towards me. The race was renewed for twenty yards up the stream; they were already close on my back, when I glided round and dashed directly past my pursuers. A fierce yell greeted my evolution and the wolves slipping upon their haunches, sailed onward, presenting a perfect picture of baffled rage. Thus I gained nearly a hundred yards at each turning. This was repeated two or three times, every moment the wolves getting more excited and baffled, until, coming opposite the house a couple of staghounds roused by the noise bayed furiously from their kennels. The wolves taking the hint, stopped in their mad career, and after a moment's consideration, turned and fled. I watched them until their dusky forms disappeared; then taking off my skates, wended my way to the house with feelings better able to be imagined than described.