the very margin of the thicket. This was sufficiently apparent by the trodden branches, the deep impressions on the moist ground, and the lavish flow of blood.

“He has been shot in the open ground and come here for a cover,” said Abiram; “these marks would clearly prove it. The boy has been set upon by the savages in a body, and has fou’t like a hero as he was, until they have mastered his strength, and then drawn him to the bushes.”

To this probable opinion there was now but one dissenting voice, that of the slow-minded Ishmael, who demanded that the corpse itself should be examined in order to obtain a more accurate knowledge of its injuries. On examination, it appeared that a rifle bullet had passed directly through the body of the deceased, entering beneath one of his brawny shoulders, and making its exit by the breast. It required some knowledge in gun-shot wounds to decide this delicate point, but the experience of the borderers was quite equal to the scrutiny; and a smile of wild, and certainly of singular satisfaction, passed among the sons of Ishmael, when Abner confidently announced that the enemies of Asa had assailed him in the rear.

“It must be so,” said the gloomy but attentive squatter. “He was of too good a stock and too well trained, knowingly to turn the weak side to man or beast! Remember, boys, that while the front of manhood is to your enemy, let him be who or what he may, you ar’ safe from cowardly surprise. Why, Eester, woman! you ar’ getting beside yourself; with picking at the hair and the garments of the child! Little good can you do him now, old girl.”

“See!” interrupted Enoch, extricating from the fragments of cloth the morsel of lead which had prostrated the strength of one so powerful; “here is the very bullet!”

Ishmael took it in his hand and eyed it long and closely.

“There’s no mistake;” at length he muttered through his compressed teeth. “It is from the pouch of that accursed trapper. Like many of the hunters he has a mark in his mould, in order to know the work his rifle performs; and here you see it plainly—six little holes, laid crossways.”

“I’ll swear to it!” cried Abiram, triumphantly. “He show’d me his private mark, himself, and boasted of the number of deer he had laid upon the prairies with these very bullets! Now, Ishmael, will you believe me when I tell you the old knave is a spy of the red-skins?”

The lead passed from the hand of one to that of another, and unfortunately for the reputation of the old man, several among them remembered also to have seen the aforesaid private bullet-marks, during the curious examination which all had made of his accoutrements. In addition to this wound, however, were many others of a less dangerous nature, all of which were supposed to confirm the supposed guilt of the trapper.

The traces of many different struggles were to be seen, between the spot where the first blood was spilt and the thicket to which it was now generally believed Asa had retreated, as a place of refuge. These were interpreted into so many proofs of the weakness of the murderer, who would have sooner despatched his victim, had not even the dying strength of the youth rendered him formidable to the infirmities of one so old. The danger of drawing some others of the hunters to the spot, by repeated firing, was deemed a sufficient reason for not again resorting to the rifle, after it had performed the important duty of disabling the victim. The weapon of the dead man was not to be found, and had doubtless, together with many other less valuable and lighter articles, that he was accustomed to carry about his person, become a prize to his destroyer.

But what, in addition to the tell-tale bullet, appeared to fix the ruthless deed with peculiar certainty on the trapper, was the accumulated evidence furnished by the trail; which proved, notwithstanding his deadly hurt, that the wounded man had still been able to make a long and desperate resistance to the subsequent efforts of his murderer. Ishmael seemed to press this proof with a singular mixture of sorrow and pride: sorrow,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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