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   Chapter 29 No.29

What Might Have Been Expected By Frank Richard Stockton Characters: 6256

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Once more in the Woods.

"Harry," said Kate, the next day after this meeting, "when are you going to get your gun back?"

"Get my gun back!" exclaimed Harry. "How am I to do that?"

"Why, there's money enough," answered Kate. "You only lent your gun-money to Aunt Matilda's fund. Take out enough, and get your gun back."

"That sounds very well," said Harry; "but we haven't so much money, after all. The interest on what we have won't begin to support Aunt Matilda, and we really ought not to break in on the principal."

Kate did not immediately answer. She thought for a while and then she said:

"Well, that's what I call talking nonsense. You must have heard some one say something like that. You never got it out of your own head."

"It may not have come out of my own head," said Harry, who had not told Kate of his meeting with George Purvis, "but it is true, for all that. It seems to me that whatever we do seems all right at first, and then fizzles out. This telegraph business has done that, straight along."

"No, it hasn't," said Kate, with some warmth. "It's turned out first-rate. I think that interest idea is all stuff. As if we wanted to set up Aunt Matilda with an income that would last forever! Here comes father. I'm going to ask him about the gun."

When Mr. Loudon had had the matter laid before him, he expressed his opinion without any hesitation.

"I think, Harry," said he, "that you certainly ought to go and get your gun."

And Harry went and got it.

The rest of that day, which was Saturday, was delightful, both to Harry and Kate. Harry cleaned and polished up his gun, and Kate sat and watched him. It seemed like old times. During those telegraphic days, when they were all thinking of business and making money, they seemed to have grown old.

But all that was over now, and they were a girl and a boy again. Late in the afternoon, Harry went out and shot half-a-dozen partridges, which were cooked for supper, and Mrs. Loudon said that that seemed like the good old style of things. She had feared that they were never going to have any more game on their table.

On the following Wednesday there was a half-holiday, and Harry was about to start off with his gun, when he proposed that Kate should go with him.

"But you're going after birds," said Kate, "and I can't go where you'll want to go-among the stubble and bushes."

"Oh! I sha'n't go much after birds," said Harry. "I wanted to borrow Captain Caseby's dog, but he's going to use him himself to-day, and so I don't expect to get much game. But we can have a good walk in the woods."

"All right," said Kate. "I'll go along." And away she went for her hat.

The walk was charming. It was now September, and the fields were full of bright-colored fall flowers, while here and there a sweet-gum tree began to put on autumn tints. The sun was bright, and there was a strong breeze full of piney odors from the forests to the west.

They saw no game; and when they had rambled about for an hour or so, they sat down under an oak-tree on the edge of the woods, and while they were talking, an idea

came into Harry's head. He picked a great big fat toadstool that was growing near the roots of the tree, and carrying it about sixty feet from the tree, he stuck it up on a bush.

"Now then," said he, taking up his gun, cocking it, and handing it to Kate, "you take a shot at that mark."

"Do you mean that I shall shoot at it?" exclaimed Kate.

"Certainly," said Harry. "You ought to know how to shoot. And it won't be the first time you have fired a gun. Take a shot."

"All right," said Kate. And she took off her hat and threw it on the grass. Then she took the gun and raised it to a level with her eye.

"Be easy now," said Harry. "Hold the butt close against your shoulder. Take your time, and aim right at the middle of the mark."

"I'm afraid I'm shutting the wrong eye," said Kate. "I always do."

"Shut your left eye," said Harry. "Get the sight right between your other eye and the mark."

Kate took a good long aim, and then, summoning all her courage, she pulled the trigger.

The gun went off with a tremendous bang! The toadstool trembled for an instant, and then tumbled off the bush.

"Hurra!" shouted Harry. "You've hit it fair!" And he ran and brought it to her, riddled with shot-holes. Kate was delighted with her success, and would have been glad to have spent the rest of the afternoon firing at a mark. But Harry was not well enough supplied with powder and shot for that. However, he gave her another shot at a piece of paper on the bush. She made three shot-holes in it, and Harry said that would do very well. He then loaded up again, and then they started off for home. The path they took led through a corner of the woods.

They had not gone far before they met Gregory Montague.

"Oh, Mah'sr Harry!" said Gregory, "I done foun' a bees' nes'."

"Where?" cried Harry.

"Down in a big tree in de holler, dar," pointing over toward the thickest part of the woods. "You have to go fru de brush and bushes, but it's a powerful big nest, Mah'sr Harry, right in de holler ob de tree."

"Are you sure it's a bees' nest?" said Harry. "How do you know?"

"I knows it's a bees' nest," said Gregory, somewhat reproachfully. "Didn't I see de bees goin' in an' out fru a little hole?"

"Kate," said Harry, "you hold this gun a little while. I'll run down there and see if it is really a bee-tree that he has found. Hold it under your arm, that way, with the muzzle down. That's it. I'll be back directly." And away he ran with Gregory.

And now Kate was left alone in the woods with a gun under her arm. It was a new experience for her. She felt proud and pleased to have control of a gun, and it was not long before she began to think that it would be a splendid thing if she could shoot something that would do for supper. How surprised they would all be if she should bring home some game that she had shot, all by herself!

She made up her mind that she would do it, if she could see anything to shoot.

And so she walked quietly along the path with her thumb on the hammer of the gun, all ready to cock it the instant she should see a good chance for a shot.

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