Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the ''Old North State'' >> Chapter Five: ''The Day the Deer Must Die!'' >> Page 71

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Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription "THIS DAY THE DEER MUST DIE" 71
After Sam had been lost from sight in the hollows, Mike quietly rode
down from the ledge of the mountain to that point midway up the
height, which had been designated as the "Devil's Prayer-Book." Why
the devil should have a prayer-book, unless, like Richard the Third, or
any other crooked politician, he keeps one for show to pious clients, is
not easy to conceive. Certainly the great flat boulder, so called, might
very well have served the purposes of a witch's altar place, there being a
great round cavity in the very centre, large enough for a caldron, and
quite proper for making the beverage "slab and good," out of the usual
magic ingredients "eye of newt and toe of frog,"&c.
Here alighting, hitching his horse in the rear, and planting himself
partially in concealment behind a smaller boulder, which protruded in
front of the great stone, Mike had a very commanding view, for a large
breadth of vision, of all that side of the mountain which was the
"drive" on the present occasion. It was a favorite spot for the hunter,
the routes commonly taken by the deer, when driven, all converging in
this direction.
Here, delivering himself to his secret doubts and hopes, "chewing
the cud of sweet and bitter thought," together, the melancholy hunter
did not the less keep his ears and eyes open for the hunt, because he
meditated the purpose upon which his heart was now set with a dogged
resolve which heeded no further counsels from his friend or goadings
from his sister. His own heart, to say nothing of his head, furnished a
sufficient goad to his will and manhood!
It was, as is very apt to be the case, a somewhat tedious watch, but
solitude becomes natural to the professional hunter, as to all people of
nomadic habits, and is rarely productive of ennui. With such people
solitude is the nurse of thought, as of one of their greatest virtues and
vices—self-esteem! The more Mike brooded, in solitude, the more
urgent became his self-esteem, and the more keenly did he meditate
and resent that wanton levity of Rose Carter, which treated his sensi-
bilities with such insolence.
But he hears at length a sound which arrests the tenor of his morti-
fying thoughts, and brings him back to his present objects. Faintly, the
cry of a single beagle ascends to him from below very faintly, and too
feebly to arouse a single echo, sleeping in the mountain hollows. He
prepares himself, however. And now a vulture darts out from among
the great thickets, and soars upward, passing immediately over his head,
and into the rear of the "Devil's Prayer-Book." He is followed by suc-
cessive flights of vultures, who break suddenly out of the volumes of