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 73

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 73

Novel (Romance) | The University of Arkansas Press | 1997
Transcription "THIS DAY THE DEER MUST DIE" 73
The chase grows hotter. Mike feels his blood kindling. It is his first
hunt for some weeks. He advances a pace, and his eyes dilate with his
emotions.
Suddenly, a branch is broken, under a sharp, quick footfall, and a
cunning old buck, far ahead of his pursuers, comes rushing up the side
of the mountain, tail in air, and making long leaps and bounds that
bring him twenty feet forward at every spring.
Very glorious and grand is his air, with his great antlers thrust out
as if darting upon an enemy; and with ever and anon a great snort from
his nostrils, as if breathing defiance.
He, too, like the vultures, takes the route for and over the "Devil's
Prayer-Book." He will probably rest him there.
Suddenly he hears a human voice, calm, slow, stern, commanding!
"Stop!" is the single word spoken by the hunter.
That human voice! who can measure its power when the heart is
strong, when the soul luxuriates in a good conscience, when art has
been perfected in civilization, and when the fine standard of a noble
manhood has been thoroughly reached? It is the sovereign voice next
below that of God, in all creation, born of power, winged with music,
to charm, to spell, build up and overthrow!
"Stop!" is the single word of power.
And, on a sudden, quick as lightning, the buck arrests himself in his
leap, so quickly as to cause his recoil upon his own haunches.
He recovers himself, wheels about and falls headlong, in that
instant, sprawling as he wheels! In that single moment of time, in the
recoil of the advancing beast, and in his effort to whirl aside from the
enemy, Mike Baynam sends the unerring bullet to his heart. The deer
lies prostrate in his tracks, and the knife of Mike is already in his throat.
He has obtained the prize for which he went upon the chase that day.
Shall he win any other prize that day? Quien sabe!
Soon the dogs were up, slowly followed by Sam Fuller, who pro-
ceeded promptly to disembowel the deer, and cast the entrails to the
now happy and howling hounds. Mike, meanwhile, without further
delay, takes the slaughtered animal on the horse behind him, and rides
away in pursuit of other game. Sam Fuller renews the chase, and Mattie
welcomes him at dark, with a fine doe behind him and a wild turkey
fastened to his saddle string.