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A short story by Charles M. Skinner

The Hunter Of Calawassee

Title:     The Hunter Of Calawassee
Author: Charles M. Skinner [More Titles by Skinner]

Through brisk November days young Kedar and his trusty slave, Lauto, hunted along the Calawassee, with hope to get a shot at a buck--a buck that wore a single horn and that eluded them with easy, baffling gait whenever they met it in the fens. Kedar was piqued at this. He drained a deep draught and buttoned his coat with an air of resolution. "Now, by my soul," quoth he, "I'll have that buck to-day or die myself!" Then he laughed at the old slave, who begged him to unsay the oath, for there was something unusual about that animal--as it ran it left no tracks, and it passed through the densest wood without halting at trees or undergrowth. "Bah!" retorted the huntsman. "Have up the dogs. If that buck is the fiend himself, I'll have him before the day is out!" The twain were quickly in their saddles, and they had not been long in the wood before the one-horned buck was seen ahead, trotting with easy pace, yet with marvellous swiftness.

Kedar, who was in advance, whipped up his horse and followed the deer into a cypress grove near the Chechesee. As the game halted at a pool he fired. The report sounded dead in the dense wood, and the deer turned calmly, watched his pursuer until he was close at hand, then trotted away again. All day long he held the chase. The dogs were nowhere within sound, and he galloped through the forest, shouting and swearing like a very devil, beating and spurring the horse until the poor creature's head and flanks were reddened with blood. It was just at sunset that Kedar found himself again on the bank of the Calawassee, near the point he had left in the morning, and heard once more the baying of his hounds. At last his prey seemed exhausted, and, swimming the river, it ran into a thicket on the opposite side and stood still. "Now I have him!" cried the hunter. "Hillio, Lauto! He's mine!" The old negro heard the call and hastened forward. He heard his master's horse floundering in the swamp that edged the river--then came a plash, a curse, and as the slave arrived at the margin a few bubbles floated on the sluggish current. The deer stood in the thicket, staring with eyes that blazed through the falling darkness, and, with a wail of fear and sorrow, old Lauto fled the spot.

[The end]
Charles M. Skinner's short story: Hunter Of Calawassee