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List Of Contents | Contents of In the Wilderness, by Charles Dudley Warner
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          "The hounds are baying on my track:
          O white man! will you send me back?"

In a panic, frightened animals will always flee to human-kind from
the danger of more savage foes.  They always make a mistake in doing
so.  Perhaps the trait is the survival of an era of peace on earth;
perhaps it is a prophecy of the golden age of the future.  The
business of this age is murder,--the slaughter of animals, the
slaughter of fellow-men, by the wholesale.  Hilarious poets who have
never fired a gun write hunting-songs,--Ti-ra-la: and good bishops
write war-songs,--,Ave the Czar!

The hunted doe went down the "open," clearing the fences splendidly,
flying along the stony path.  It was a beautiful sight.  But consider
what a shot it was!  If the deer, now, could only have been caught I
No doubt there were tenderhearted people in the valley who would have
spared her life, shut her up in a stable, and petted her.  Was there
one who would have let her go back to her waiting-fawn? It is the
business of civilization to tame or kill.

The doe went on.  She left the sawmill on John's Brook to her right;
she turned into a wood-path.  As she approached Slide Brook, she saw
a boy standing by a tree with a raised rifle.  The dogs were not in
sight; but she could hear them coming down the hill.  There was no
time for hesitation.  With a tremendous burst of speed she cleared
the stream, and, as she touched the bank, heard the "ping" of a rifle
bullet in the air above her.  The cruel sound gave wings to the poor
thing.  In a moment more she was in the opening: she leaped into the
traveled road.  Which way?  Below her in the wood was a load of hay:
a man and a boy, with pitchforks in their hands, were running towards
her.  She turned south, and flew along the street.  The town was up.
Women and children ran to the doors and windows; men snatched their
rifles; shots were fired; at the big boarding-houses, the summer
boarders, who never have anything to do, came out and cheered; a
campstool was thrown from a veranda.  Some young fellows shooting at
a mark in the meadow saw the flying deer, and popped away at her; but
they were accustomed to a mark that stood still.  It was all so
sudden!  There were twenty people who were just going to shoot her;
when the doe leaped the road fence, and went away across a marsh
toward the foothills.  It was a fearful gauntlet to run.  But nobody
except the deer considered it in that light.  Everybody told what he
was just going to do; everybody who had seen the performance was a
kind of hero,--everybody except the deer.  For days and days it was
the subject of conversation; and the summer boarders kept their guns
at hand, expecting another deer would come to be shot at.

The doe went away to the foothills, going now slower, and evidently
fatigued, if not frightened half to death.  Nothing is so appalling
to a recluse as half a mile of summer boarders.  As the deer entered
the thin woods, she saw a rabble of people start across the meadow in
pursuit.  By this time, the dogs, panting, and lolling out their
tongues, came swinging along, keeping the trail, like stupids, and
consequently losing ground when the deer doubled.  But, when the doe
had got into the timber, she heard the savage brutes howling across
the meadow.  (It is well enough, perhaps, to say that nobody offered
to shoot the dogs.)

The courage of the panting fugitive was not gone: she was game to the
tip of her high-bred ears.  But the fearful pace at which she had
just been going told on her.  Her legs trembled, and her heart beat
like a trip-hammer.  She slowed her speed perforce, but still fled
industriously up the right bank of the stream.  When she had gone a
couple of miles, and the dogs were evidently gaining again, she
crossed the broad, deep brook, climbed the steep left bank, and fled
on in the direction of the Mount-Marcy trail.  The fording of the
river threw the hounds off for a time.  She knew, by their uncertain
yelping up and down the opposite bank, that she had a little respite:
she used it, however, to push on until the baying was faint in her
ears; and then she dropped, exhausted, upon the ground.

This rest, brief as it was, saved her life.  Roused again by the
baying pack, she leaped forward with better speed, though without
that keen feeling of exhilarating flight that she had in the morning.
It was still a race for life; but the odds were in her--favor, she
thought.  She did not appreciate the dogged persistence of the
hounds, nor had any inspiration told her that the race is not to the
swift.

She was a little confused in her mind where to go; but an instinct
kept her course to the left, and consequently farther away from her
fawn.  Going now slower, and now faster, as the pursuit seemed more
distant or nearer, she kept to the southwest, crossed the stream
again, left Panther Gorge on her right, and ran on by Haystack and
Skylight in the direction of the Upper Au Sable Pond.  I do not know
her exact course through this maze of mountains, swamps, ravines, and
frightful wildernesses.  I only know that the poor thing worked her
way along painfully, with sinking heart and unsteady limbs, lying
down "dead beat" at intervals, and then spurred on by the cry of the
remorseless dogs, until, late in the afternoon, she staggered down
the shoulder of Bartlett, and stood upon the shore of the lake.  If
she could put that piece of water between her and her pursuers, she
would be safe.  Had she strength to swim it?

At her first step into the water she saw a sight that sent her back
with a bound.  There was a boat mid-lake: two men were in it.  One
was rowing: the other had a gun in his hand.  They were looking
towards her: they had seen her.  (She did not know that they had
heard the baying of hounds on the mountains, and had been lying in
wait for her an hour.) What should she do?  The hounds were drawing
near.  No escape that way, even if she could still run.  With only a
moment's hesitation she plunged into the lake, and struck obliquely
across.  Her tired legs could not propel the tired body rapidly.  She
saw the boat headed for her.  She turned toward the centre of the
lake.  The boat turned.  She could hear the rattle of the oarlocks.
It was gaining on her.  Then there was a silence.  Then there was a
splash of the water just ahead of her, followed by a roar round the
lake, the words "Confound it all!" and a rattle of the oars again.
The doe saw the boat nearing her.  She turned irresolutely to the
shore whence she came: the dogs were lapping the water, and howling
there.  She turned again to the center of the lake.

The brave, pretty creature was quite exhausted now.  In a moment
more, with a rush of water, the boat was on her, and the man at the
oars had leaned over and caught her by the tail.

"Knock her on the head with that paddle!" he shouted to the gentleman
in the stern.

The gentleman was a gentleman, with a kind, smooth-shaven face, and
might have been a minister of some sort of everlasting gospel.  He
took the paddle in his hand.  Just then the doe turned her head, and
looked at him with her great, appealing eyes.

"I can't do it! my soul, I can't do it!" and he dropped the paddle.
"Oh, let her go!"

"Let H. go!" was the only response of the guide as he slung the deer
round, whipped out his hunting-knife, and made a pass that severed
her jugular.

And the gentleman ate that night of the venison.

The buck returned about the middle of the afternoon.  The fawn was
bleating piteously, hungry and lonesome.  The buck was surprised.  He
looked about in the forest.  He took a circuit, and came back.  His
doe was nowhere to be seen.  He looked down at the fawn in a helpless
sort of way.  The fawn appealed for his supper.  The buck had nothing
whatever to give his child,--nothing but his sympathy.  If he said
anything, this is what he said: "I'm the head of this family; but,
really, this is a novel case.  I've nothing whatever for you.  I
don't know what to do.  I've the feelings of a father; but you can't
live on them.  Let us travel."

The buck walked away: the little one toddled after him.  They
disappeared in the forest.




V

A CHARACTER STUDY

There has been a lively inquiry after the primeval man.  Wanted, a
man who would satisfy the conditions of the miocene environment, and
yet would be good enough for an ancestor.  We are not particular
about our ancestors, if they are sufficiently remote; but we must
have something.  Failing to apprehend the primeval man, science has
sought the primitive man where he exists as a survival in present
savage races.  He is, at best, only a mushroom growth of the recent
period (came in, probably, with the general raft of mammalian fauna);
but he possesses yet some rudimentary traits that may be studied.

It is a good mental exercise to try to fix the mind on the primitive
man divested of all the attributes he has acquired in his struggles
with the other mammalian fauna.  Fix the mind on an orange, the
ordinary occupation of the metaphysician: take from it (without
eating it) odor, color, weight, form, substance, and peel; then let
the mind still dwell on it as an orange.  The experiment is perfectly
successful; only, at the end of it, you haven't any mind.  Better
still, consider the telephone: take away from it the metallic disk,
and the magnetized iron, and the connecting wire, and then let the
mind run abroad on the telephone.  The mind won't come back.  I have
tried by this sort of process to get a conception of the primitive
man.  I let the mind roam away back over the vast geologic spaces,
and sometimes fancy I see a dim image of him stalking across the
terrace epoch of the quaternary period.

But this is an unsatisfying pleasure.  The best results are obtained
by studying the primitive man as he is left here and there in our
era, a witness of what has been; and I find him most to my mind in
the Adirondack system of what geologists call the Champlain epoch.  I
suppose the primitive man is one who owes more to nature than to the

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