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The Bear Hunt








From: Glengarry Schooldays

"Is Don round, Mrs. Cameron?"

"Mercy me, Hughie! Did ye sleep in the woods? Come away in. Ye're a
sight for sore eyes. Come away in. And how's ye're mother and all?"

"All right, thank you. Is Don in?"

"Don? He's somewhere about the barn. But come away, man, there's a bit
bannock here, and some honey."

"I'm in a hurry, Mrs. Cameron, and I can't very well wait," said Hughie,
trying to preserve an evenness of tone and not allow his excitement to
appear.

"Well, well! What's the matter, whatever?" When Hughie refused a "bit
bannock" and honey, something must be seriously wrong.

"Nothing at all, but I'm just wanting Don for a--for something."

"Well, well, just go to the old barn and cry at him."

Hughie found Don in the old barn, busy "rigging up" his plow, for the
harvest was in and the fall plowing was soon to begin.

"Man, Don!" cried Hughie, in a subdued voice, "it's the greatest thing
you ever heard!"

"What is it now, Hughie? You look fairly lifted. Have you seen a ghost?"

"A ghost? No, something better than that, I can tell you."

Hughie drew near and lowered his voice, while Don worked on
indifferently.

"It's a bear, Don."

Don dropped his plow. His indifference vanished. The Camerons were great
hunters, and many a bear had they, with their famous black dogs, brought
home in their day, but not for the past year or two; and never had Don
bagged anything bigger than a fox or a coon.

"Where did you see him?"

"I didn't see him." Don looked disgusted. "But he was in our house last
night."

"Look here now, stop that!" said Don, gripping Hughie by the jacket and
shaking him.

But Hughie's summer in the harvest-field had built up his muscles, and
so he shook himself free from Don's grasp, and said, "Look out there!
I'm telling you the truth. Last night father was out late and the supper
things were left on the table--some honey and stuff--and after father
had been asleep for a while he was wakened by some one tramping about
the house. He got up, came out of his room, and called out, 'Jessie,
where are the matches?' And just then there was an awful crash, and
something hairy brushed past his leg in the dark and got out of the
door. We all came down, and there was the table upset, the dishes all on
the floor, and four great, big, deep scratches in the table."

"Pshaw! It must have been Fido."

"Fido was in the barn, and just mad to get out; and besides, the tracks
are there yet behind the house. It was a bear, sure enough, and I'm
going after him."

"You?"

"Yes, and I want you to come with the dogs."

"Oh, pshaw! Dear knows where he'll be now," said Don, considering.

"Like enough in the Big Swamp or in McLeod's beech bush. They're awful
fond of beechnuts. But the dogs can track him, can't they?"

"By jingo! I'd like to get him," said Don, kindling under Hughie's
excitement. "Wait a bit now. Don't say a word. If Murdie hears he'll
want to come, sure, and we don't want him. You wait here till I get the
gun and the dogs."

"Have you got any bullets or slugs?"

"Yes, lots. Why? Have you a gun?"

"Yes, you just bet! I've got our gun. What did you think I was going to
do? Put salt on his tail? I've got it down the lane."

"All right, you wait there for me."

"Don't be long," said Hughie, slipping away.

It was half an hour before Don appeared with the gun and the dogs.

"What in the world kept you? I thought you were never coming," said
Hughie, impatiently.

"I tell you it's no easy thing to get away with mother on hand, but it's
all right. Here's your bullets and slugs. I've brought some bannocks and
cheese. We don't know when we'll get home. We'll pick up the track in
your brule. Does any one know you're going?"

"No, only Fusie. He wanted to come, but I wouldn't have it. Fusie gets
so excited." Hughie's calmness was not phenomenal. He could hardly stand
still for two consecutive seconds.

"Well, let's go," and Don set off on a trot, with one of the black dogs
in leash and the other following, and after him came Hughie running
lightly.

In twenty minutes they were at the manse clearing.

"Now," said Don, pulling up, "where did you say you saw his track?"

"Just back of the house there, and round the barn, and then straight for
the brule."

The boys stood looking across the fallen timber toward the barn.

"There's Fido barking," said Hughie. "I bet he's on the scent now."

"Yes," answered Don, "and there's your father, too."

"Gimmini crickets! so it is," said Hughie, slowly. "I don't think it's
worth while going up there to get that track. Can't we get it just as
well in the woods here?" There were always things to do about the house,
and besides, the minister knew nothing of Hughie's familiarity with the
gun, and hence would soon have put a stop to any such rash venture as
bear-hunting.

The boys waited, listening to Fido, who was running back and forward
between the brule and the house barking furiously. The minister seemed
interested in Fido's manoeuvres, and followed him a little way.

"Man!" said Hughie, in a whisper, "perhaps he'll go and look for the gun
himself. And Fido will find us, sure. I say, let's go."

"Let's wait a minute," said Don, "to see what direction Fido takes, and
then we'll put our dogs on."

In a few minutes Hughie breathed more freely, for his father seemed to
lose his interest in Fido, and returned slowly to the house.

"Now," said Hughie, "let's get down into the brule as near Fido as we
can get."

Cautiously the boys made their way through the fallen timber, keeping as
much as possible under cover of the underbrush. But though they hunted
about for some time, the dogs evidently got no scent, for they remained
quite uninterested in the proceedings.

"We'll have to get up closer to where Fido is," said Don, "and the
sooner we get there the better."

"I suppose so," said Hughie. "I suppose I had better go. Fido will
stop barking for me." So, while Don lay hid with the dogs in the brule,
Hughie stole nearer and nearer to Fido, who was still chasing down
toward the brule and back to the house, as if urging some one to come
forth and investigate the strange scent he had discovered. Gradually
Hughie worked his way closer to Fido until within calling distance.

Just as he was about to whistle for the dog, the back door opened and
forth came the minister again. By this time Fido had passed into the
brule a little way, and could not be seen from the house. It was an
anxious moment for Hughie. He made a sudden desperate resolve. He must
secure Fido now, or else give up the chance of getting on the trail of
the bear. So he left his place of hiding, and bending low, ran swiftly
forward until Fido caught sight of him, and hearing his voice, came to
him, barking loudly and making every demonstration of excitement and
joy. He seized the dog by the collar and dragged him down, and after
holding him quiet for a moment, hauled him back to Don.

"We'll have to take him with us," he said. "I'll put this string on his
collar, and he'll go all right." And to this Don agreed, though very
unwillingly, for he had no confidence in Fido's hunting ability.

"I tell you he's a great fighter," said Hughie, "if we should ever get
near that bear."

"Oh, pshaw!" said Don, "he may fight dogs well enough, but when it comes
to a bear, it's a different thing. Every dog is scared of a bear the
first time he sees him."

"Well, I bet you Fido won't run from anything," said Hughie,
confidently.

To their great relief they saw the minister set off in the opposite
direction across the fields.

"Thank goodness! He's off to the McRae's," said Hughie.

"Now, then," said Don, "we'll go back to the track there, and put the
dogs on. You go on with Fido." And Hughie set off with Fido pulling
eagerly upon the string.

When they reached the spot where Fido had been seized by Hughie,
suddenly the black dog who had been following Don at some distance,
stopped short and began to growl. In a moment his mate threw up his nose
and began sniffing about, the hair rising stiff upon his back.

"He's catching it," said Don, in an excited tone. "Here, you hold him. I
must get the other one, or he'll be off." He was not a minute too soon,
for the other dog, who had been ranging about, suddenly found the trail,
and with a fierce, short bark, was about to dash off when Don threw
himself upon him. In a few moments both dogs were on the leash, and set
off upon the scent at a great pace. The trail was evidently plain enough
to the dogs, for they followed hard, leading the boys deeper and deeper
into the bush.

"He's making for the Big Swamp," said Don, and on they went, with eyes
and ears on the alert, expecting every moment to hear the snort of a
bear, or to meet him on the further side of every bunch of underbrush.

For an hour they went on at a steady trot, over and under fallen logs,
splashing through water holes, crashing over dead brushwood, and tearing
through the interlacing boughs of the thick underbrush of spruce and
balsam. The black dogs never hesitated. They knew well what was their
business there, and that they kept strictly in mind. Fido, on the other
hand, who loved to roam the woods in an aimless hunt for any and every
wild thing that might cross his nose, but who never had seriously hunted
anything in particular, trotted good-naturedly behind Hughie with rather
a bored expression on his face.

The trail, which had led them steadily north, all at once turned west
and away from the swamp.

"Say," said Don, "he's making for Alan Gorrach's cabin."

"Man!" said Hughie, "that would be fine, to get him there. It's good and
open, too."

"Too open by a long way," grunted Don. "We'd never get him there."

Sure enough, the dogs led up from the swamp and along the path to Alan's
cabin. The door stood open, and in answer to Don's "Horo!" Alan came
out.

"What now?" he said, glowering at Don.

"You won't be wanting any dogs to-day, Alan?" said Don, politely.

Alan glanced at him suspiciously, but said not a word.

"These are very good dogs, indeed, Alan."

"Go on your ways, now," said Alan.

"These black ones are not in very good condition, but Fido there is a
good, fat dog."

Alan's wrath began to rise.

"Will you be going on, now, about your business?"

"Better take them, Alan, there's a hard winter coming on."

"Mac an' Diabhoil!" cried Alan, in a shrill voice, suddenly bursting
into fury. "I will be having your heart's blood," he cried, rushing into
his cabin.

"Come on, Hughie," cried Don, and away they rushed, following the black
dogs upon the trail of the bear.

Deeper and deeper into the swamp the dogs led the way, the going
becoming more difficult and the underbrush thicker at every step. After
an hour or two of hard work, the dogs began to falter, and ran hither
and thither, now on one scent and then on another, till tired out and
disgusted, Don held them in, and threw himself down upon the soft moss
that lay deep over everything.

"We're on his old tracks here," said Don, savagely, "and you can't pick
out the new from the old."

"His hole must be somewhere not too far away," said Hughie.

"Yes, perhaps it is, but then again it may be across the ridge. At any
rate, we'll have some grub."

As they ate the bannocks and cheese, they pictured to themselves what
they should do if they ever should come up with the bear.

"One thing we've got to be careful of," said Don, "and that is, not to
lose our heads."

"That's so," assented Hughie, feeling quite cool and self-possessed at
the time.

"Because if you lose your head you're done for," continued Don.
"Remember Ken McGregor?"

"No," said Hughie.

"Didn't you ever hear that? Why, he ran into a bear, and made a drive at
him with his axe, but the bear, with one paw knocked the axe clear out
of his hand, and with one sweep of the other tore his insides right out.
They're mighty cute, too," went on Don. "They'll pretend to be almost
dead just to coax you near enough, and then they'll spin round on their
hind legs like a rooster. If they ever do catch you, the only thing
to do is to lie still and make believe you're dead, and then, unless
they're very hungry, they won't hurt you much."

After half an hour's rest, the hunting instinct awoke again within them,
and the boys determined to make another attempt. After circling about
the swamp for some time, the boys came upon a beaten track which led
straight through the heart of the swamp.

"I say," said Don, "this is going to strike the ridge somewhere just
about there," pointing northeast, "and if we don't see anything between
here and the ridge, we'll strike home that way. It'll be better walking
than this cursed swamp, anyway. Are you tired?"

Hughie refused to acknowledge any weariness.

"Well, then, I am," said Don.

The trail was clear enough, and they were able to follow at a good
pace, so that in a few minutes, as they had expected, they struck the
northeast end of the swamp. Here again they called a halt, and tying
up the dogs, lay down upon the dry, brown leaves, lazily eating the
beechnuts and discussing their prospects of meeting the bear, and their
plans for dealing with him.

"Well, let's go on," at length said Don. "There's just a chance of our
meeting him on this ridge. He's got a den somewhere down in the swamp,
and he may be coming home this way. Besides, it'll take us all our time,
now, to get home before dark. I guess there's no use keeping the dogs
any longer. We'll just let them go." So saying, Don let the black dogs
go free, but after a little skirmishing through the open beech woods,
the dogs appeared to lose all interest in the expedition, and kept close
to Don's heels.

Fido, on the other hand, followed, ranging the woods on either side,
cheerfully interested in scaring up rabbits, ground-hogs, and squirrels.
He had never known the rapture of bringing down big game, and so was
content with whatever came his way.

At length the hunters reached the main trail where their paths
separated; but a little of the swamp still remained, and on the other
side was the open clearing.

"This is your best way," said Don, pointing out the path to Hughie. "We
had bad luck to-day, but we'll try again. We may meet him still, you
know, so don't fire at any squirrel or anything. If I hear a shot I'll
come to you, and you do the same by me."

"I say," said Hughie, "where does this track of mine come out? Is it
below the Deepole there, or is it on the other side of the clearing?"

"Why, don't you know?" said Don. "This runs right up to the back of the
Fisher's berry patch, and through the sugar-bush to your own clearing.
I'll go with you if you like."

"Oh, pshaw!" said Hughie, "I'll find it all right. Come on, Fido." But
Fido had disappeared. "Good night, Don."

"Good night," said Don. "Mind you don't fire unless it's at a bear. I'll
do the same."

In a few minutes Hughie found himself alone in the thick underbrush of
the swamp. The shadows were lying heavy, and the sunlight that still
caught the tops of the tall trees was quite lost in the gloom of the low
underbrush. Deep moss under foot, with fallen trees and thick-growing
balsam and cedars, made the walking difficult, and every step Hughie
wished himself out in the clearing. He began to feel, too, the
oppression of the falling darkness. He tried whistling to keep up his
courage, but the sound seemed to fill the whole woods about him, and he
soon gave it up.

After a few minutes he stood still and called for Fido, but the dog had
gone on some hunt of his own, and with a sense of deeper loneliness,
he set himself again to his struggle with the moss and brush and fallen
trees. At length he reached firmer ground, and began with more cheerful
heart to climb up to the open.

Suddenly he heard a rustle, and saw the brush in front of him move.

"Oh, there you are, you brute," he cried, "come in here. Come in, Fido.
Here, sir!"

He pushed the bushes aside, and his heart jumped and filled his mouth.
A huge, black shape stood right across his path not ten paces away. A
moment they gazed at each other, and then, with a low growl, the bear
began to sway awkwardly toward him. Hughie threw up his gun and fired.
The bear paused, snapping viciously and tearing at his wounded shoulder,
and then rushed on Hughie without waiting to rise on his hind legs.

Like a flash Hughie dodged behind the brush, and then fled like the wind
toward the open. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the bear shambling
after him at a great pace, and gaining at every jump, and his heart
froze with terror. The balsams and spruces were all too low for safety.
A little way before him he saw a small birch. If he could only make that
he might escape. Summoning all his strength he rushed for the tree,
the bear closing fast upon him. Could he spring up out of reach of the
bear's awful claws?

Two yards from the tree he heard an angry snap and snarl at his heels.
With a cry, he dropped his gun, and springing for the lowest bough, drew
up his legs quickly after him with the horrible feeling of having
them ripped asunder. To his amazement he found that the bear was not
scrambling up the tree after him, but was still some paces off, with
Fido skirmishing at long range. It was Fido's timely nip that had
brought him to a sudden halt, and allowed Hughie to make his climb in
safety.

"Good dog, Fido. Sic him! Sic him, old fellow!" cried out Hughie, but
Fido was new to this kind of warfare, and at every jump of the raging
brute he fled into the brush with his tail between his legs, returning,
however, to the attack as the bear retired.

After driving Fido off, the bear rushed at the tree, and in a fury began
tearing up its roots. Then, as if realizing the futility of this, he
flung himself upon its trunk and began shaking it with great violence
from side to side.

Hughie soon saw that the tree would not long stand such an attack. He
slipped down to the lowest bough so that his weight might be taken from
the swaying top, and encouraging Fido, awaited results.

He found himself singularly cool. Having escaped immediate danger, the
hunter's instinct awoke within him, and he longed to get that bear.
If he only had his gun, he would soon settle him, but the bear,
unfortunately, had possession of that. He began hurriedly to cut off as
stout a branch as he could to make himself a club. He was not a moment
too soon, for the bear, realizing that he could neither tear up the tree
by the roots nor shake his enemy out of it, decided, apparently, to go
up for him.

He first set himself to get rid of Fido, which he partially succeeded
in doing by chasing him a long distance off. Then, with a great rush, he
flew at the tree, and with amazing rapidity began to climb.

Hughie, surprised by this swift attack, hastened to climb to the higher
branches, but in a moment he saw that this would be fatal. Remembering
that the bear is like the dog in his sensitive parts, he descended to
meet his advancing foe, and reaching down, hit him a sharp blow on
the snout. With a roar of rage and surprise the bear let go his
hold, slipped to the ground, and began to tear up the earth, sneezing
violently.

"Oh, if I only had that gun," groaned Hughie, "I'd get him. And if he
gets away after Fido again, I believe I'll try it."

The bear now set himself to plan some new form of attack. He had been
wounded, but only enough to enrage him, and his fury served to fix more
firmly in his head the single purpose of getting into his grip this
enemy of his in the tree, whom he appeared to have so nearly at his
mercy.

Whatever his new plan might be, a necessary preliminary was getting rid
of Fido, and this he proceeded to do. Round about the trees he pursued
him, getting farther and farther away from the birch, till Hughie,
watching his chance, slipped down the tree and ran for his gun. But no
sooner had he stooped for it than the bear saw the move, and with an
angry roar rushed for him.

Once more Hughie sprang for his branch, but the gun caught in the boughs
and he slipped to the ground, the bear within striking distance. With a
cry he sprang again, reached his bough and drew himself up, holding his
precious gun safe, wondering how he had escaped. Again it was Fido that
had saved him, for as the bear had gathered himself to spring, Fido,
seeing his chance, rushed boldly in, and flinging himself upon the hind
leg of the enraged brute, held fast. It was the boy's salvation, but
alas! it was Fido's destruction, for wheeling suddenly, the bear struck
a swift downward blow with his powerful front paw, and tore the whole
side of the faithful brute wide open. With a howl, poor Fido dragged
himself away out of reach and lay down, moaning pitifully.

The bear, realizing that he had got rid of one foe, now proceeded more
cautiously to deal with the other, and began warily climbing the tree,
keeping his wicked little eyes fixed upon Hughie.

Meantime, Hughie was loading his gun with all speed. He emptied his
powder-horn into the muzzle, and with the bear coming slowly nearer,
began to search for his bullets. Through one pocket after another his
trembling fingers flew, while with the butt of his gun he menaced his
approaching enemy.

"Where are those bullets?" he groaned. "Ah, here they are!" diving into
his trousers pocket. "Fool of a place to keep them, too!"

He took a handful of slugs and bullets, poured them into his gun, rammed
down a wadding of leaves upon all, retreating as he did so to the higher
limbs, the bear following him steadily. But just as he had his cap
securely fixed upon the nipple, the bear suddenly revealed his plan.
Holding by his front paws, he threw his hind legs off from the trunk. It
was his usual method of felling trees. The tree swayed and bent till the
top almost touched the ground. But Hughie, with his legs wreathed round
the trunk, brought his gun to his shoulder, and with its muzzle almost
touching the breast of the hanging brute, pulled the trigger.

There was a terrific report, the bear dropped in a heap from the tree,
and Hughie was hurled violently to the ground some distance away,
partially stunned. He raised himself to see the bear struggle up to a
sitting position, and gnashing his teeth, and flinging blood and foam
from his mouth, begin to drag himself toward him. He was conscious of
a languid indifference, and found himself wondering how long the bear
would take to cover the distance.

But while he was thus cogitating there was a sharp, quick bark, and a
great black form hurled itself at the bear's throat and bore the fierce
brute to the ground.

Drawing a long sigh, Hughie sank back to the ground, with the sound of a
far-away shot in his ears, and darkness veiling his eyes.

He was awakened by Don's voice anxiously calling him.

"Are you hurt much, Hughie? Did he squeeze you?"

Hughie sat up, blinking stupidly.

"What?" he asked. "Who?"

"Why, the bear, of course."

"The bear? No. Man! It's too bad you weren't here, Don," he went on,
rousing himself. "He can't be gone far."

"Not very," said Don, laughing loud. "Yonder he lies."

Hughie turned his head and gazed, wondering, at the great black mass
over which Don's black dogs were standing guard, and sniffing with
supreme satisfaction.

Then all came back to him.

"Where's Fido?" he asked, rising. "Yes, it was Fido saved me, for sure.
He tackled the bear every time he rushed at me, and hung onto him just
as I climbed the tree the second time."

As he spoke he walked over to the place where he had last seen the
dog. A little farther on, behind a spruce-tree, they found poor Fido,
horribly mangled and dead.

Hughie stooped down over him. "Poor old boy, poor old Fido," he said, in
a low voice, stroking his head.

Don turned away and walked whistling toward the bear. As he sat beside
the black carcass his two dogs came to him. He threw his arms round
them, saying, "Poor old Blackie! Poor Nigger!" and he understood how
Hughie was feeling behind the spruce-tree beside the faithful dog that
had given him his life.

As he sat there waiting for Hughie, he heard voices.

"Horo!" he shouted.

"Where are you? Is that you, Don?" It was his father's voice.

"Yes, here we are."

"Is Hughie there?" inquired another voice.

"Losh me! that's the minister," said Don. "Yes, all right," he cried
aloud, as up came Long John Cameron and the minister, with Fusie and a
stranger bringing up the rear.

"Fine work, this. You're fine fellows, indeed," cried Long John,
"frightening people in this way."

"Where is Hughie?" said the minister, sternly.

Hughie came from behind the brush, hurriedly wiping his eyes. "Here,
father," he said.

"And what are you doing here at this hour of the night, pray?" said the
minister, angrily, turning toward him.

"I couldn't get home very well," replied Hughie.

"And why not, pray? Don't begin any excuses with me, sir." Nothing
annoyed the minister as an attempt to excuse ill-doing.

"I guess he would have been glad enough to have got home half an hour
ago, sir," broke in Don, laughing. "Look there." He pointed to the bear
lying dead, with Nigger standing over him.

"The Lord save us!" said Long John Cameron, himself the greatest among
the hunters of the county. "What do you say? And how did you get him?
Jee-ru-piter! he's a grand one."

The old man, the minister, and Don walked about the bear in admiring
procession.

"Yon's a terrible gash," said Long John, pointing to a gaping wound in
the breast. "Was that your Snider, Don?"

"Not a bit of it, father. The bear's Hughie's. He killed him himself."

"Losh me! And you don't tell me! And how did you manage that, Hughie?"

"He chased me up that tree, and I guess would have got me only for
Fido."

The minister gasped.

"Got you? Was he as near as that?"

"He wasn't three feet away," said Hughie, and with that he proceeded to
give, in his most graphic style, a description of his great fight with
the bear.

"When I heard the first shot," said Don, "I was away across the swamp.
I tell you I tore back here, and when I came, what did I see but Hughie
and Mr. Bear both sitting down and looking coolly at each other a few
yards apart. And then Nigger downed him and I put a bullet into his
heart." Don was greatly delighted, and extremely proud of Hughie's
achievement.

"And how did you know about it?" asked Don of his father.

"It was the minister here came after me."

"Yes," said the minister, "it was Fusie told me you had gone off on a
bear hunt, and so I went along to the Cameron's with Mr. Craven here, to
see if you had got home."

Meantime, Mr. Craven had been looking Hughie over.

"Mighty plucky thing," he said. "Great nerve," and he lapsed into
silence, while Fusie could not contain himself, but danced from one foot
to the other with excited exclamations.

The minister had come out intending, as he said, "to teach that boy a
lesson that he would remember," but as he listened to Hughie's story,
his anger gave place to a great thankfulness.

"It was a great mercy, my boy," he said at length, when he was quite
sure of his voice, "that you had Fido with you."

"Yes, indeed, father," said Hughie. "It was Fido saved me."

"It was the Lord's goodness," said the minister, solemnly.

"And a great mercy," said Long John, "that your lad kept his head and
showed such courage. You have reason to be proud of him."

The minister said nothing just then, but at home, when recounting the
exploit to the mother, he could hardly contain his pride in his son.

"Never thought the boy would have a nerve like that, he's so excitable.
I had rather he killed that bear than win a medal at the university."

The mother sat silent through all the story, her cheek growing more and
more pale, but not a word did she say until the tale was done, and then
she said, "'Who delivereth thee from destruction.'"

"A little like David, mother, wasn't it?" said Hughie; but though there
was a smile on his face, his manner and tone were earnest enough.

"Yes," said his mother, "a good deal like David, for it was the same God
that delivered you both."

"Rather hard to cut Fido out of his share of the glory," said Mr.
Craven, "not to speak of a cool head and a steady nerve."

Mrs. Murray regarded him for a moment or two in silence, as if
meditating an answer, but finally she only said, "We shall cut no one
out of the glory due to him."

At the supper-table the whole affair was discussed in all its bearings.
In this discussion Hughie took little part, making light of his exploit,
and giving most of the credit to Fido, and the mother wondered at the
unusual reserve and gravity that had fallen upon her boy. Indeed, Hughie
was wondering at himself. He had a strange new feeling in his heart.
He had done a man's deed, and for the first time in his life he felt it
unnecessary to glory in his deeds. He had come to a new experience, that
great deeds need no voice to proclaim them. During the thrilling moments
of that terrible hour he had entered the borderland of manhood, and the
awe of that new world was now upon his spirit.

It was chiefly this new experience of his that was sobering him, but it
helped him not a little to check his wonted boyish exuberance that
at the table opposite him sat a strange young man, across whose dark,
magnetic face there flitted, now and then, a lazy, cynical smile.
Hughie feared that lazy smile, and he felt that it would shrivel into
self-contempt any feeling of boastfulness.

The mother and Hughie said little to each other, waiting to be alone,
and after Hughie had gone to his room his mother talked long with him,
but when Mr. Craven, on his way to bed, heard the low, quiet tones of
the mother's voice through the shut door, he knew it was not to Hughie
she was speaking, and the smile upon his face lost a little of its
cynicism.

Next day there was no smile when he stood with Hughie under the
birch-tree, watching the lad hew flat one side, but gravely enough he
took the paper on which Hughie had written, "Fido, Sept. 13th, 18--,"
saying as he did so, "I shall cut this for you. It is good to remember
brave deeds."





Next: John Craven's Method

Previous: Hughie's Emancipation



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