« ÎnapoiContinuă »
There was not a single feeling in the temperament of Elizabeth Temple, that could prompt her to desert a companion in such an extremity; and she fell on her
; knees, by the side of the inanimate Louisa, tearing from the person of her friend, with an instinctive readiness, such parts of her dress as might obstruct her respiration, and encouraging their only safeguard, the dog, at the same time, by the sounds of her voice.
“Courage, Brave !” she cried - her own tones beginning to tremble courage, courage, good Brave ! ”
A quarter-grown cub, that had hitherto been unseen, now appeared, dropping from the branches of a sapling, that grew under the shade of the beech which held its dam. This ignorant but vicious creature approached near to the dog, imitating the actions and sounds of its parent, but exhibiting a strange mixture of the playfulness of a kitten with the ferocity of its race. Standing on its hind legs, it would rend the bark of a tree with its fore paws, and play all the antics of a cat, for a moment; and then, by lashing itself with its tail, growling, and scratching the earth, it would attempt the manifestations of anger that rendered its parent so terrific.
All this time, Brave stood firm and undaunted, his short tail erect, his body drawn backward on his haunches, and his eyes following the movements of both dam and cub. At every gambol played by the latter, it ap
. proached nigher to the dog, the growling of the three becoming more horrid at each moment, until the younger beast, overleaping its intended bound, fell directly before the mastiff. There was a moment of fearful cries and struggles ; but they ended almost as soon as
commenced, by the cub appearing in the air, hurled from the jaws of Brave,
with a violence that sent it against a tree so forcibly as to render it completely senseless.
Elizabeth witnessed the short struggle, and her blood was warming with the triumph of the dog, when she saw the form of the panther in the air, springing twenty feet from the branch of the beech to the back of the mastiff. No words of ours can describe the fury of the conflict that followed. It was a confused struggle on the dried leaves, accompanied by loud and terrible cries, barks, and growls.
So rapid and vigorous were the bounds of the inhabitant of the forest, that its active frame seemed constantly in the air, while the dog nobly faced his foe at each successive leap. When the panther lighted on the shoulders of the mastiff, which was its constant aim, old Bráve, though torn with her talons, and stained with his own blood, that already flowed from a dozen wounds, would shake off his furious foe, like a feather, and, rearing on his hind legs, rush to the fray again, with his jaws distended, and a dauntless eye. But age, and his pampered life, greatly disqualified
, the noble mastiff for such a struggle. In every thing but courage, he was only the vestige of what he had once been. A higher bound than ever raised the wary and furious beast far beyond the reach of the dog who was making a desperate but fruitless dash at her from which she alighted, in a favorable position, on the back of her aged foe. For a single moinent, only, could the panther remain there, the great strength of the dog returning with a convulsive effort. But Eliza
beth saw, as Brave fastened his teeth in the side of his enemy, that the collar of brass around his neck, which had been glittering throughout the fray, was of the color of blood, and, directly, that his frame was sinking to the earth, where it soon lay prostrate and helpless. Several mighty efforts of the wild-cat to extricate herself from the jaws of the dog, followed; but they were fruitless, until the mastiff turned on his back, his lips collapsed, and his teeth loosened; when the short convulsions and stillness that succeeded, announced the death of poor Brave. .
Elizabeth now lay wholly at the mercy of the beast. There is said to be something in the front of the image of the Maker, that daunts the hearts of the inferior beings of his creation; and it would seem that some such power, in the present instance, suspended the threatened blow. The eyes of the monster and the kneeling maiden met, for an instant, when the former stooped to examine her fallen foe; next to scent her luckless cub. From the latter examination it turned, however, with its eyes apparently emitting flashes of fire, its tail lashing its sides furiously, and its claws projecting for inches from its broad feet.
“ Hist! hist!” said a low voice; “stoop lower, gall; your bonnet hides the creater's head."
It was rather the yielding of nature, than a compliance with this unexpected order, that caused the head of our heroine to sink on her bosom; when she heard the report of the rifle, the whizzing of the bullet, and the enraged cries of the beast, who was rolling over on the earth, biting its own flesh, and tearing the twigs and branches within its reach. At the next instant,
the form of Leather-stocking rushed by her; and he called aloud — “Come in, Hector; come in; 'tis a hard-lived animal, and may jump ag’in.'*
Natty maintained his position in front of the maidens, most fearlessly, notwithstanding the violent bounds and threatening aspect of the wounded panther, which gave several indications of returning strength and ferocity, until his rifle was again loaded ; when he stepped up to the enraged animal, and, placing the muzzle close to its head, every spark of life was extinguished by the discharge.
SONG OF THE PILGRIMS.
The breeze has swelled the whitening sail,
Leave behind our native shore,
The deep may dash, the winds may blow,
Still, as long as life shall last,
For we would rather never be,
Blasts of heaven, onward sweep!
O, see what wonders meet our eyes!
Here, at length, our feet shall rest,
As long as yonder firs shall spread
Shall those cliffs and mountains be
Now to the King of kings we'll raise
Happier lands have met our view!