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Surely nature intended that I should have been born among the Camanchees or Pawnees! From my earliest years, I have preferred the company and habits of our stern and hardy huntsmen, to all the advantages which polished society could offer. The wild notes of the horn never failed to send the warm blood tingling through my veins, and the bayings of a gallant hound are to me more musical than the sweetest note which ever fell from woman's lip. Never do I feel more vividly the pride of existence, than when, mounted on my swift-footed Cherokee, I fly through the wild forest, ever accompanied by my faithful hound Bravo. At such times, I have often been tempted to use the Kentucky hunter's boast, the swiftest horse, the surest rifle, the best dog;' omitting the prettiest wife,' as an article finding no place in my inventory of chattels.
Though custom and duty have interfered with my natural propensities, and made me a semi-civilized man; though years of
life have been spent in poring over the dry details of the law; yet methinks some portion of the dare-devil spirit which once actuated me yet remains. Oftentimes, throwing aside the records of legal lore, have I, with one or two choice spirits, buried myself in the depths of
our noble forests, whose echoes, for weeks, rang to the report of our fatal rifles. Volumes would not picture the scenes which were then enacted. The gallant spirits who shared these sports, are now scattered over this wide Union, and many of them are battling their way to fortune and renown. But with us all, these campings out' will ever be a bright spot in the wide waste of things departed. Who of us will ever forget the parting feast; the last night's revel; when, gathered around the mossy knoll in front of our camp-fire, we pledged each other in the bright juice of the grape ? Poets have sung the parting-cup, the stirrup-cup, the cup which beauty's lip had
, first touched; but give, O! give me the cup that was drained at midnight, in the depths of the old forest; true friends around, and the mild stars looking down upon our innocent revelry! Busy memory, be still! nor seek to make me garrulous ! 'T is not to bring back scenes long flown, that I now write, but to record an adventure which happened to me a few days since.
Who ever saw Bravo, without loving him ? His sloe-black eyes, his glossy skin, flecked here and there with blue; his wide-spread thighs, clean shoulders, broad back, and low-drooping chest, bespoke him the true stag-hound; and none who ever saw his bounding form, or heard his deep-toned bay, as the swift-footed stag flew before him, would dispute his title. List, gentle reader! and I will tell you an adventure, which will make you love him all the more.
A bright frosty morning in November, 1838, tempted me to visit the forest hunting-grounds. On this occasion, I was followed by a fine-looking hound, which had been presented to me, a few days before, by a fellow sportsman. I was anxious to test his qualities, and knowing that a mean dog will often hunt well with a good one, I had tied
the eager Bravo, and was attended by the stranger dog alone. A brisk canter of half an hour, brought me to the wild forest hills. Slackening the rein, I slowly wound my way up a brushy slope, some three hundred yards in length. I had ascended about half way, when the bound began to exhibit evident signs of uneasiness; and at the same instant a stag sprang out from some underbrush near by, and rushed like a whirlwind up the slope. A word, and the houud was crouching at my feet, and my trained Cherokee, with ear erect, and flashing eye, watched the course of the affrighted animal.
On the very summit of the ridge, full one hundred and fifty yards distant, every limb standing out in bold relief against the clear blue sky, the stag paused, and looked proudly down upon us. After a moment of indecision, I raised my rifle, and sent the whizzing lead upon its errand. A single bound, and the antlered monarch was hidden from my view. Hastily running down a ball, I ascended the slope,
my blood ran a little faster, as I saw the 'gouts of blood' which stained the withered leaves where he had stood. One moment more, and the excited hound was leaping breast high on his trail, and the gallant Cherokee bore his rider like lightning after them.
Away - away! for hours, did we thus hasten on, without once being at fault, or checking our headlong speed. The chase had led us miles from the starting point, and now appeared to be bearing up
a creek, on one side of which arose a precipitous hill, some two miles in length, which I knew the wounded animal would never ascend. Half a mile farther on, another hill reared its bleak and barren head, on the opposite side of the rivulet. Once fairly in the gorge, there was no exit, save at the upper end of the ravine. Here then I must intercept my game, which I was able to do, by taking a near cut over the ridge, that saved at least a mile.
Giving one parting shout to cheer my dog, Cherokee bore me headlong to the pass. I had scarcely arrived, when, black with sweat, the stag came laboring up the gorge, seemingly totally reckless of our presence. Again I poured forth the 'leaden messenger of death,' as meteor-like he flashed by us. One bound, and the noble animal lay prostrate within fifty feet of where I stood. Leaping from my horse, and placing one knee upon his shoulder, and a hand upon his antlers, I drew my hunting-knife; but scarcely had its keen point touched his neck, when, with a sudden bound, he threw me from his body, and my knife was hurled from my hand. In hunter's parlance, I had
I only creased him.' I at once saw my danger; but it was too late. With one bound he was upon me, wounding and almost disabling me, with his sharp feet and horns. I seized him by his wide-spread antlers, and sought to regain possession of my knife; but in vain ; each new struggle drew us farther from it. Cherokee, frightened at this unusual scene, had madly fled to the top of the ridge, where he stood looking down upon the combat, trembling and quivering in every limb.
The ridge road I had taken, had placed us far in advance of the hound, whose bay I could not now hear. The struggles of the furious animal had become dreadful, and every moment I could feel his sharp hoofs cutting deep into my flesh; my grasp upon his antlers was growing less and less firm; and yet I relinquished not my hold. The struggle had brought us near a deep ditch, washed by the heavy fall rains, and into this I endeavored to force my adversary; but my strength was unequal to the effort; when we approached to the very brink, he leaped over the drain ; I relinquished my hold, and rolled in, hoping thus to escape him. But he returned to the attack, and throwing himself upon me, inflicted numerous severe cuts upon my face and breast, before I could again seize him. Locking my arms around his antlers, I drew his head close to my breast, and was thus, by a great effort, enabled to prevent his doing me any serious injury. But I felt that this could not last long; every muscle and fibre of my frame was called into action, and human nature could not long bear up under such exertion. Faltering a silent prayer to heaven, I prepared to meet my fate.
At this moment of despair, I heard the faint bayings of the hound. The stag, too, heard the sound, and springing from the ditch, drew me with him. His efforts were now redoubled, and I could scarcely cling to him. Yet that blessed sound came nearer and nearer! O how wildly beat my heart, as I saw the hound emerge from the ravine, and spring forward, with short quick bark, as his eye
rested on his game. I released my hold of the stag, who turned upon
this new enemy. Exhausted and unable to rise, I still cheered the dog, that, dastard-like, fled before the infuriated animal, who, seemingly despising such an enemy, again threw himself upon me. Again did I succeed in throwing my arms around his antlers, but not until he had inflicted several deep and dangerous wounds upon my head and face, cutting to the very bone.
Blinded by the flowing blood, exhausted and despairing, I cursed the coward dog, who stood near, baying furiously, yet refusing to seize his game. O how I prayed for Bravo! The thoughts of death were bitter. To die thus, in the wild forest, alone, with none to help! Thoughts of home and friends coursed like lightning through my brain. At that moment of desperation, when Hope herself had fled, deep and clear, over the neighboring hill, came the bay of my gallant Bravo! I should have known his voice among a thousand! I pealed forth, in one faint shout, ‘On, Bravo ! on!' The next moment, with tiger-like bounds, the noble dog came leaping down the declivity, scattering the dried autumnal leaves like a whirlwind in his path. • No pause he knew,' but fixing his fangs in the stag's throat, at once commenced the struggle.
I fell back, completely exhausted. Blinded with blood, I only knew that a terrific struggle was going on.
In a few moments all was still, and I felt the warm breath of my faithful dog, as he licked my wounds. Clearing my eyes from gore, I saw my late adversary dead at my feet; and Bravo, ‘my own Bravo,' as the heroine of a modern novel would say, standing over me. He yet bore around his neck a fragment of the rope with which I had tied him. He had gnawed it in two, and following his master through all his windings, arrived in time to rescue him from a horrid death.
I have recovered from my wounds. Bravo is lying at my feet. Who does not love Bravo? I am sure I do; and the rascal knows it! Don't you, Bravo ? Come here, Sir !
E. R. W.
Who had escaped the tomb, could wit prevail,
And to that feast return, divided quite
J. PIERPONT, AUTHOR OF 'AIRS OF PALESTINE,' ETC.
CALL ye these ruins? What is ruined here?
Seems it not, rather, a majestic fane,
Mysterious ? Ay; for, if ye ask the age