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What Might Have Been Expected By Frank Richard Stockton Characters: 6723

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

A Girl and a Gun.

A short distance beyond the place where Kate had been left, there was a small by-path; and when, still carefully carrying her gun, she reached this path, Kate stopped. Here would be a good place, she thought, to wait for game. Something would surely come into that little path, if she kept herself concealed.

So she knelt down behind a small bush that grew at a corner of the two paths, and putting her gun through the bush, rested the barrel in a crotch.

The gun now pointed up the by-path, and there was an opening in the bush through which Kate could see for some distance.

Here, then, she watched and waited.

The first thing that crossed the path was a very little bird. It hopped down from a twig, it jerked its head about, it pecked at something on the ground, and then flew up into a tree. Kate would not have shot it on any account, for she knew it was not good to eat; but she could not help wondering how people ever did shoot birds, if they did not "hold still" any longer than that little creature did.

Then there appeared a small brown lizard. It came very rapidly right down the path toward Kate.

"If it comes all the way," thought Kate, "I shall have to jump."

But it did not come all the way, and Kate remained quiet.

For some time no living creatures, except butterflies and other insects, showed themselves. Then, all of a sudden, there popped into the middle of the path, not very far from Kate, a real, live rabbit!

It was quite a good-sized rabbit, and Kate trembled from head to foot. Here was a chance indeed!

To carry home a fat rabbit would be a triumph. She aimed the gun as straight toward the rabbit as she could, having shut the wrong eye several times before she got the matter arranged to her satisfaction. Then she remembered that she had not cocked the gun, and so she had to do that, which, of course, made it necessary for her to aim all over again.

She cocked only one hammer, and she did it so gently that it did not frighten the rabbit, although he flirted his ears a little when he heard the "click, click!" Everything was so quiet that he probably thought he heard some insect, probably a young or ignorant cricket that did not know how to chirp properly.

So he sat very still and nibbled at some leaves that were growing by the side of the path. He looked very pretty as he sat there, taking his dainty little bites, and jerking up his head every now and then, as if he were expecting somebody.

"I must wait till he's done eating," thought Kate. "It would be cruel to shoot him now."

Then he stopped nibbling all of a sudden, as if he had just thought of something, and as soon as he remembered what it was, he twisted his head around and began to scratch one of his long ears with his hind foot. He looked so funny doing this that Kate came near laughing but, fortunately, she remembered that that would not do just then.

When he had finished scratching one ear, he seemed to consider the question whether or not he should scratch the other one; but he finally came to the conclusion that he would not. He would rather hop over to the other side of the path and see what was there.

This, of course, made it necessary for Kate to take a new aim at him.

Whatever it was that he found on the other side of the path it grew under the ground, and he stu

ck his head down as far as he could get it, and bent up his back, as if he were about to try to turn a somersault, or to stand on his head.

"How round and soft he is!" thought Kate. "How I should like to pat him. I wonder when he'll find whatever it is that he's looking for! What a cunning little tail!"

The cunning little tail was soon clapped flat on the ground, and Mr. Bunny raised himself up and sat on it. He lifted his nose and his fore-paws in the air and seemed to be smelling something good. His queer little nose wiggled so comically that Kate again came very near bursting out laughing.

"How I would love to have him for a pet!" she said to herself.

After sniffing a short time, the rabbit seemed to come to the conclusion that he was mistaken, after all, and that he did not really smell anything so very good. He seemed disappointed, however, for he lifted up one of his little fore-paws and rubbed it across his eyes. But, perhaps, he was not so very sorry, but only felt like taking a nap, for he stretched himself out as far as he could, and then drew himself up in a bunch, as if he were going to sleep.

"I wish he wouldn't do that," thought Kate, anxiously. "I don't want to shoot him in his sleep."

But Bunny was not asleep. He was thinking. He was trying to make up his mind about something. There was no way of finding out what it was that he was trying to make up his mind about. He might have been wondering why some plants did not grow with their roots uppermost, so that he could get at them without rubbing his little nose in the dirt; or why trees were not good to eat right through trunk and all. Or he might have been trying to determine whether it would be better for him to go over to 'Lijah Ford's garden, and try to get a bite at some cabbage-leaves; or to run down to the field just outside of the woods, where he would very likely meet a certain little girl rabbit that he knew very well.

But whatever it was, he had no sooner made up his mind about it than he gave one big hop and was out of sight in a minute.

"There!" cried Kate. "He's gone!"

"I reckon he thought he'd guv you 'bout chance enough, Miss Kate," said a voice behind her, and turning hurriedly, she saw Uncle Braddock.

"Why, how did you come here?" she exclaimed. "I didn't hear you."

"Reckon not, Miss Kate," said the old man. "You don't s'pose I was a-goin' to frighten away yer game. I seed you a-stoopin' down aimin' at somethin', and I jist creeped along a little at a time to see what it was. Why, what did come over you, Miss Kate, to let that ole har go? It was the puttiest shot I ever did see."

"Oh! I couldn't fire at the dear little thing while it was eating so prettily," said Kate, letting down the hammer of the gun as easily as she could; "and then he cut up such funny little capers that I came near laughing right out. I couldn't shoot him while he was so happy, and I'm glad I didn't do it at all."

"All right, Miss Kate," said Uncle Braddock, as he started off on his way through the woods; "that may be a werry pious way to go a-huntin' but it won't bring you in much meat."

When Harry came back from hunting for the bee-tree, which he did not find, he saw Kate walking slowly down the path toward the village, the gun under her arm, with the muzzle carefully pointed toward the ground.

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