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They finally gave him up, therefore, and and he, in his customary manner, was Jack might after all, have been left in swearing and raving at every one around peace to love Molly and the children as him, taunting them with their bungling, hard as he pleased, and indulge his pas- and defying them to try again. Observing sion for marksmanship only at the ex- Jack he jerked the target away, and with pense of the dumb, wild things around a loud grating laugh, thrust it insultingly him, but that he was accidently led to close to his face :-" Hah! Jack Longmake an unfortunate display of it. A legs! They say you can shoot! Look few log huts near the center consti at that! Look close, will you ?" pushtuted the county town. Here was the ing it closer to his eyes. Can you beat grocery, or store, as it was dignified—at it.” Jack stepped back and looking dewhich alone powder and lead and whis. liberately at the board target, said very ky were to be obtained for many miles dryly—- Pshaw! the cross aint clean around. Jack happened to get out of out! I should'nt think I was doin any ammunition and came into this place for great things to beat such shootin as a fresh supply. Attracted by the whis- that !” “ You should'nt, should'nt you?" ky, this was the head quarters of the roared Hinch, furious at Jack's coolness. Regulators, and they were all collected “ You'll try it, wont you ? I'd like to for a grand shooting match, and of course see you! You must try it! You shall getting drunk fast as possible to steady try it! We'll see what sort of a swell their nerves. When Jack arrived, he you are !"
- Oh!” said Jack, altogether Cound them gathered in a group under a unruffled, “If I must, I must! Put up cluster of trees, several hundred yards his board thar, men. If you want to from the house. It had been some time see me shoot through every hole you can since there had been any altercation be- make, I'll do it for ye!”—and walking tween any of them and himself; and back to the “ off hand” stand at forty though he supposed it was all forgotten, paces, by the time the “ markers” had yet he felt some little disinclination to placed the board against the tree, he had joining them, and had resolved not to do wheeled and, slowly swinging his long it. But as once, and again, and again, rifle down from his shoulder to the level, that sharp report he loved so well to hear fired as quick as thought. would ring out, followed by the clamors, trick of mine !” remarked he, nodding exclamations and eager grouping of the his head toward Hinch who stood near, men around the target to critically ex while he was lowering his gun to the amine the result of each shot, his passion position for reloading — It's a trick I for the sport, and curiosity to see how caught from always shooting at varmint's others shot, overcome a half-defined feel. eyes! I never takes 'em any whar else! ing that he was going to do what, for li’s a notion I've got !” At this moment Molly's sake, was an imprudent thing. the men standing near the target, who Hinch, the Regulator Captain, had always had rushed instantly with great eagerbeen the unrivalled hero of such oc ness to see the result, shouted, while one casions; for apart from the fact that he of the “ markers” held it aloft over their was really an admirable shot, he was heads—" He's done it! His ball's the known to be so fierce, blustering and biggest—he's driv it through your hole vindictive a bully, that nobody dared and made it wider !" try very hard to beat him, since he would Hinch turned pale. Rushing forward be certain to make a personal affair of it he tore the target away from the “mark. with whoever presumed to be so lucky er” and examining it minutely, shouted or so skillful. Now, every body in the hoarsely—“ It's an accident! he can't do county was well aware of this but Jack, it again! He's a humbug! I'll bet the and he either was not aware, or did ears of a buffalo calf against his that he not care for the matter, if he did know can't do it again! He's afraid to shoot it. He knew, though, that Hinch was a with me again !” “Oh,” said Jack, winkfamous shot; and noticing that he was ing aside at the men, “ if you mean by preparing to shoot, started to join them, that bet, your ears against mine, I take determined to see for himself what they it up! Boys, fix a new board up thar, callel good shooting. He came swing with a nice cross on the center, and I ing himself carelessly among them, with will show the Captain here the clean long, heavy strides, as they were all vo- thing in shootin'!” “ As he said this he ciferating in half drunken raptures over laughed good-humoredly, and the men the glorious shot just made by Hinch could not help joining him. Hinch, who
was loading his gun, said nothing, but upon his ears, they would have taken glared around him with white compress- warning to beware how they farther moed lips and a chafed look of stifled sury, lested that dangerous slumber of fierce which made those who knew the man energies. The strong man in reality had shudder. The men, who were in reality never waked. His consciousness was puzzled to tell whether Jack's manner only aware of a single passion, and that indicated contempt or unconscious sim- controlled and curbed all others. The plicity, looked on the progress of this image of his wife and children rose above scene, and for the result of the coming the swelling tumult which shook his trial, with intense curiosity. The new heavy frame. He saw them deserted and board was now ready, and Hinch stepped hopeless, with no protection in this wild forward with great parade to make his and lawless region, should le fall in a shot. After aiming a long time-he fired. struggle with such fearful odds. For all The men were around the board in a mo these men were the willing slaves, the ment, and instantly proclaimed it a first abject tools, of the ferocious vices of his rate shot. And so it was. The edge of brutal insulter; and it would have been the ball had broken, without touching, a contest, not with him alone, but with the centre. Jack, with the same inex- all of them. This was stronger than plicable coolness which marked his whole pride with Jack, and he walked on. But bearing, and without the slightest hesita- he had incurred the hate of Hinch-retion, shaking his head as he took his lentless and unsparing. To be shorn, in stand, remarked, “'Twon't do yet—taint so unceremonious a manner, of the very plumb_’taint the clean thing yet, boys;” reputation he prided himself most upon, and throwing out his long rifle again in in the presence of his men; to be dethe same heedless style, fired before one prived of so fruitful a theme of self-glocould think. The men sprang forward rification and boasting, as the reputation and announced that the centre was cut of being the foremost marksman the out with the most exact and perfect nice- frontier afforded, was too much for the ty. At the same moment, greatly to the pride of the thick-blooded, malignant astonishment of every one, Jack walked savage; and he swore to dog the inoffendeliberately off toward the house, with- sive hunter to the death, or out from the out waiting to hear the announcement county. “ Hah!" shouted Hinch furiously after From this time poor Jack was in hot him, “I thought you was a coward! water. Shortly after a horse was stolen Look at the sneak! come back !” He from a rich and powerful Planter in the fairly roared, starting after him, “come neighborhood of the town. The animal back, you can't shoot as well before a was a fine one, and the Planter was muzzle!” Jack walked on without turn- greatly enraged at the loss; for he was ing his head. “ Ha, ha!” laughed the one of those who paid “ black mail” to Regulator, almost convulsed with fury, the Regulators for protection from all “ see, the coward is running away to such annoyances, immunity from dehide under his wife's petticoats !” and predations not only by themselves, but long and loud he pealed the harsh taunt from any other quarter. He now called after Jack's retreat. The men who at upon them to hunt down the thief, as first had been greatly astonished at the they were bound under the contract to rash daring which could thus have ven- do, and return the horse. Hinch collected tured to beard the lion in his most for- his band with great parade and proceeded midable mood, and felt the instinctive to follow the trail, which was readily admiration with which such traits always discoverable near the Planter's house. inspire such breasts, now, on seeing what Late in the evening he returned and anappeared to be so palpable a “ back-out," nounced, that after tracing it with great joined also in the laugh with Hinch. difficulty through many devious windThey thought it was cowardice !-A ings, evidently intended to puzzle pursuit, holy sentiment they could not under- he had at last been led directly to the stand, kept watch and ward over the near vicinity of Jack Long's hut. This terrible repose of passion. If they only created much surprise, for no one had could have seen how that broad massive suspected Jack of bad habits. But Hinch face was wrenched and grew white with and his villains bruited far and wide all the deep inward spasm of pride struggling the circumstances tending to criminate for the mastery, as those bitter gibes, so him. After making these things as nohard to be borne by a free hunter, rung torious as possible, attracting as great a
degree of public curiosity as he could to and the excitement became universal and the farther investigation, which he pro- intense. In the estimation of every body, fessed to be carrying on for the purpose hanging, drawing and quartering, burnof fixing the hunter's guilt beyond a ing, lynching, any thing was too good doubt, the horse was unexpectedly found for such a monster. All this was most tied with a lariat to a tree in a dense industriously fomented by Hinch and bottoin near Jack's. This seemed to his myrmidons, until things had reached settle the question of his criminality, and the proper crisis. Then a county meetthere was a general outcry raised around ing was got up, at which one of the him on all sides. For though the majo. Planters presided, and resolutions were rity of those most clamorous against him passed that Jack Long, as a bad citizen, were horse-thieves themselves, yet, ac should be lynched and driven from the cording to the doctrine of " honor among county forihwith. Hinch, of course, thieves,” there could be no greater or dictated a resolution which he was to more unpardonable enormity committed have the pleasure of carrying into effect. than to steal among themselves. “ He In the mean time, Jack had given must be warned to quit the county," was himself very little trouble about what in the mouth of every body, and he was was said of him. He had kept himself warned. Jack with great simplicity gave so entirely apart from every body that he them to understand--that he was not was nearly in perfect ignorance of what ready to go—that when he was he should was going on. The deer fell before his leave at his leisure-but that if his con unerring rifle in as great numbers as ever. venience and theirs did not happen to The bear rendered up his shaggy coat, agree, they might make the most of it. the panther his tawney hide, in as freThis left no alternative but force; and as quent trophies to the unique skill of the no individual felt disposed to take the Hunter. personal responsibility upon himself of a One evening he had returned laden collision with so unpromising a looking down as usual with the spoils to his body, Hinch, eager as he was, did not hut. It was a snug little lodge in the feel that the circumstances were quite wilderness, that home of Jack's. It strong enough yet, to justify the extremes stood beneath the shade of an island he intended pushing his vengeance to. grove, on a hill side, overlooking a Things were not quite ripe, and Jack thicket which bordered a small stream. with all the hurrah and excitement about No trellised vines ran over it, nor garden him, kept even on his way, conquering flowers nodded with gaudy crests about and to conquer among the hairy tribes, il. But the gray silvery moss hung its for some weeks longer.
matchless drapery in long fringes from Singular instances of the most vile and the old wide-armed oak above, and that wanton spite now began to occur in vari- mild but most pervading odor which the ous parts of the region around. At quick winds are skilful to steal from the breath intervals, valuable horses and mules of leaves, the young grass growing, and were found shot dead close to the dwell. the panting languishment of delicate wild ings of the Planters, as it seemed, with- flowers filled the whole atmosphere out the slightest provocation for such around. These were the perfumes and unheard of cruelty, but merely in base the sights the coy exacting taste of a revenge for some fancied injury. The bold rover of the solitudes must have. rumor soon got out that all these animals The fresh face of nature and her breathing, might be observed to belong to those sweet as childhood's, could alone satisfy persons who had made themselves most the senses and the soul of one grown thus active in denouncing Jack Long. Then in love with the freedom of the wilderness. was noticed the curious fact that all of the round, happy face of his wife greeted them were shot through the eye! This him with smiles from the door as he apwas at once associated with the remark proached, while his little boy and girl, nut of Jack, and his odd feat in firing through brown and ruddy, strove with emulous a bullet hole, at the shooting match. short steps pattering over the thick grass, This seemed to designate him certainly to meet him first, and clinging to his finas the guilty man; and as animal after gers, prattled and shouted to tell their moanimal continued to fall, every one of ther of his coming. He entered, and the them slain in the same way, a perfect precious rifle was carefully deposited on blaze of indignation burst out on all the accustomed “ hooks” of buck's horns sides. The whole county was roused, nailed against the wall. The smoking
meal her tidy care had prepared was dis. endeavoring to hide their faces in her patched, and the hunting adventures of dress, screamed in affright, while outside the day told over. Then he threw the group eight or nine men with guns in himself with his great length along the their hands stood in a circle. That was buffalo robe on the floor, to rest and have a fearful awakening to Jack Long, but it a romp with the children. While they was to a new birth! His eye took in were climbing over his large body, and the whole details of the scene at a glance. scrambling in riotous joy about him, his His enemy grinning in his face with wife spoke for some water for her domes- wolfish triumph, the “quirt,” with its tic affairs. It was hard for the children long heavy lash of knotted raw-hide in to give up their frolic, but Molly's wish his hand. He saw the brute spurn her was a strong law with Jack. Bounding violently from him with his foot, until up, he seized a vessel and started for the she pitched heavily against the wretches stream--the little ones pouting wistfully around; and he heard them shout with as they looked after him from the door. laughter. A sharp, electric agony, like It was against Jack’s religion to step out the riving of an oak, shivered along his side the door without his gun; but this nerves, passed out at his fingers and his time Molly was in a hurry for the water, feet, and left him rigid as marble. he there was no time to get the gun, and it murderous thong fell upon his white skin, was but a short way to the stream. He whelking it in blue ridges, while the dull sprang gaily along the narrow path down black drops spouted and rolled off to the the hill and reached the brink. The ground. But he regarded it no more than water had been dipped up and he was did the oak above him, which swayed returning at a rapid pace through the its moss-wreathed arms and shook its thicket, when, where it was very high green leaves, as any other day, in the and bordered close upon the path, he wind; and when his wife, as every suddenly felt something tap him on each harsh slashing sound fell upon her ear, shoulder, and his progress impeded would shriek mercy!" then shudderstrangely. At the same instant a num “Oh! mercy! what has he done?” while ber of men rushed from ambush on each she covered her eyes with her hands, side of him, several of them holding the and cowered with her forehead on the end of the stout raw-hide lasso, which ground, he seemed no more to hear her had been thrown over him. He instantly than did the dead block on the lintel of put forth all his tremendous strength in his door. The man seemed to be dead, a convulsive effort to get free; and so all except his eyes, and though Hinch, powerful was his frame that he would roused to frantic wrath by his unmoved have succeeded but for the sure skill with air, rose on tiptoe and swung the lash which the lasso had been thrown that with redoubled fury, howling blasphebound him over either arm. As it was, mies at each blow, yet those eyes unhis remarkable vigor, nerved by despera- movingly, with a cold search, glanced tion, was sufficient to drag the six strong around into the faces of the men. That men who clung to the rope after him. regard was clinging and keen, as if the He heard the voice of Hinch shout eager- faintest lineament were intended to be rely, “ Down with him! Drag him down!” membered in hell! The man's look was At that hateful sound a supernatural positively awful, and it dwelt fixedly activity possessed him, and writhing with upon one after another with an icy light a quick spring that shook off those who that shot freezing an undefined sense of clung around his limbs, he had almost fear into their souls, beastialized as they succeeded in reaching his own door, were. The villains could not stand it, when a heavy blow from behind felled and began to shrink and shuffle behind him. The last objects which met his eye each other to avoid it, but it was too late! as he sunk down insensible, were the He had them all! Ten men! They were terror-stricken and agonized faces of his registered! “Kill him! Kill him! He's wife and two children looking out upon dangerous !” shouted several. I'll do for him. When he awoke to consciousness him, den him !” panted Hinch, as he it was to find himself nearly stripped and labored yet more furiously with the lashed to the oak which spread above lash. We will drop a curtain over this his hut. Hinch, with a look of devilish scene. It is enough to say that they left exultation, stood before him, his wife him for dead, lying in his blood, his wife wailing with piteous lamentations, clung swooning on the ground with the children about the monster's knees--the children, weeping plaintively over her, and silence
and darkness fell around the desolate but horses, dogs, negroes, guns, and all group, as the sun went down which had the et cetera for insuring our enjoyment to risen in smiles upon the innocent happi- the fullest extent of every amusement the ness of that simple family.
country offered. We were soon actively Nothing more was seen or heard of and entirely absorbed in a daily round Jack Long
His hut was deserted, and of exciting chases. One day several of his family disappeared, nor did any one the neighbors were invited to join us, know or care what had become of them. and all our forces were mustered for a For a little while there were various ru- grand “ Deer Drive.” In this sport dogs mors, but the whole aflair was soon are used, and under the charge of the forgotten amidst the frequent recurrence “Driver,” as he is called, they are taken of similar scenes.
into the woods for the purpose of rousing It was about four months after these and driving out the deer, who have a occurrences that with a friend I was habit of always passing out from one traversing, Western Texas.
line of timber to another at or near the both anxious to familiarize ourselves same spot, and these places are either with the topography of the country, and known to the hunters from experience to combine, as much as possible, amuse or observation of the nature of the ground. ment with our researches into its natural At these “crossing places”, the “ Standhistory. About equally zealous for ers” are stationed with their rifles to science and the “ sports," we made it a watch for the coming out of the deer, point, on reaching any district which who are shot as they go hy. On getting promised much for either, to make some to the ground we divided into two parties, excuse for stopping. The modes of chase, each flanking up the opposite edge of a and the animals principally abounding line of timber, over a mile in width, while in the different counties, varied greatly, the “ Driver" penetrated it with the dogs. and were determined by the characteristics On our side, the sport was u
unusually of the surface, the predominance of prairie good, till, wearied with slaughter, we or timber, with the scarcity or abundance returned in the afternoon toward the of water; or else, as we found to be the Planter's house, to partake of a late dincase in Shelby, the equal distribution of ner of game with him before the party all. Islands of Timber, (“ Motts,”) with should separate. It was near sun-down long belts of forest fringing the streams, when we dismounted. Soon after we were dotted and stretched in most de were seated, it was announced that dinlighiful variety over the broad ground- ner was ready. We now discovered the work of now undulating, now level prai. absence of my friend, Henry, and one of rie. Here was diversity of attraction the neighbors, whose name was Stoner. sufficient to suit the nature of all the But every one thought they would be denizens, whether of water, wood, or there directly, and our appetites hinted plain ; and, accordingly, in penetrating a pretty strongly, that it would be vastly short distance we observed such numbers uncourteous of us to leave the dinner of and so many different species of game, our Hostess to spoil by waiting. We sat that the country seemed to be a true pa down, and were doing undoubted justice radise of hunters. The prospect of rare to the fare-there is no appetizer like sport, in all its phases, proved too at- the headlong excitement of the chase, tractive for our philosophy, and a stay out where the wilderness-winds blow of a week or two in Shelby county was upon you—when Henry, who was an promptly determined upon between us. impulsive, voluble soul, came bustling My friend happened to recollect that a into the room with something of unusual inan who had removed from his native flurry in his manner, beginning to talk county in Virginia to Texas, and taken by the time he got his head into the with him some wealth in property, had doortinally settled in Shelby county.
We “I say, Squire! what sort of a country inquired for him at the first house and is this of yours ? Catamounts, Buffalo, readily found his where abouts. He was Horned-Frogs, Centipedes, one would a large Planter, and received us with think were strange creatures enough for great frankness and cordiality. What a single county; but, by George! I met ever else may be said of the Texans, with something to-day which lays them they are unquestionably most generously all in the shade.” hospitable. Our Host forth with placed “ What was it? What was it like?” at our disposal, not only his own time, Without noticing these questions, he