The Second Hunt in the Mountains
Fair dawned, over the hills of Martair, the jocund morning of our hunt.
Everything had been prepared for it overnight; and, when we arrived at the house, a good breakfast was spread by Shorty: and old Tonoi was bustling about like an innkeeper. Several of his men, also, were in attendance to accompany us with calabashes of food; and, in case we met with any success, to officiate as bearers of burdens on our return.
Apprised, the evening previous, of the meditated sport, the doctor had announced his willingness to take part therein.
Now, subsequent events made us regard this expedition as a shrewd device of the Yankees. Once get us off on a pleasure trip, and with what face could we afterward refuse to work? Beside, he enjoyed all the credit of giving us a holiday. Nor did he omit assuring us that, work or play, our wages were all the while running on.
A dilapidated old musket of Tonois was borrowed for the doctor. It was exceedingly short and heavy, with a clumsy lock, which required a strong finger to pull the trigger. On trying the piece by firing at a mark, Long Ghost was satisfied that it could not fail of doing execution: the charge went one way, and he the other.
Upon this, he endeavoured to negotiate an exchange of muskets with Shorty; but the Cockney was proof against his blandishments; at last, he intrusted his weapon to one of the natives to carry for him.
Marshalling our forces, we started for the head of the valley; near which a path ascended to a range of high land, said to be a favourite resort of the cattle.
Shortly after gaining the heights, a small herd, some way off, was perceived entering a wood. We hurried on; and, dividing our party, went in after them at four different points; each white man followed by several natives.
I soon found myself in a dense covert; and, after looking round, was just emerging into a clear space, when I heard a report, and a bullet knocked the bark from a tree near by. The same instant there was a trampling and crashing; and five bullocks, nearly abreast, broke into view across the opening, and plunged right toward the spot where myself and three of the islanders were standing.
They were small, black, vicious-looking creatures; with short, sharp horns, red nostrils, and eyes like coals of fire. On they cametheir dark woolly heads hanging down.
By this time my island backers were roosting among the trees. Glancing round, for an instant, to discover a retreat in case of emergency, I raised my piece, when a voice cried out, from the wood, Right between the orns, Paul! right between the orns! Down went my barrel in range with a small white tuft on the forehead of the headmost one; and, letting him have it, I darted to one side. As I turned again, the five bullocks shot by like a blast, making the air eddy in their wake.
The Yankee now burst into view, and saluted them in flank. Whereupon, the fierce little bull with the tufted forehead flirted his long tail over his buttocks; kicked out with his hind feet, and shot forward a full length. It was nothing but a graze; and, in an instant, they were out of sight, the thicket into which they broke rocking overhead, and marking their progress.
The action over, the heavy artillery came up, in the person of the Long Doctor with his blunderbuss.
Where are they? he cried, out of breath.
A mile or two hoff, by this time, replied the Cockney. Lord, Paul! you ought tove sent an ailstone into that little black un.
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