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Harper's Young People, April 6, 1880   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S




Tuesday, April 6, 1880. Copyright, 1880, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50 per Year, in Advance.




"Jim," said Charley, "has that dog of yours gone crazy?"

"Old Nap? No. Why? What's the matter with him?"

"Just look at the way he's diving in and out among the trees. He'll run full split right against one first thing he knows."

"No, he won't. He's after rabbits. We're 'most to the swamp now, and Nap knows what we've come for as well as we do."

There was no mistake but what he was a wonderfully busy dog just then. It looked as if he was trying to be all around, everywhere, at the same time; and every few moments he would give expression to his excitement in a short sharp yelp.

"He means to tell us he'll stir one out in a minute," said Jim. "It's a prime rabbit day."

"Are there more rabbits some days than there are others?"

"Easier to get 'em. You see, there came a thaw, and the old snow got settled down, and a good hard crust froze on top of it; then there was a little snow last night, and the rabbits'll leave their tracks in that when they come out for a run on the crust. Old Nap knows. See him; he'll have one out in a minute."

"Is this the swamp?" asked Charley.

"All that level ahead of us. In spring, and in summer too, unless it's a dry season, there's water everywhere among the trees and bushes; but it's frozen hard now."

"What is there beyond?"

"Nothing but mountains, 'way back into the Adirondacks. We'd better load up, Charley."

"Why, are not the guns loaded?"

"No. Father never lets a loaded gun come into the house. Aunt Sally won't either. Shall I load your gun for you?"

"Load my gun! Well, I guess not. As if I couldn't load my own gun!"

Charley set himself to work at once, for the movements of old Nap were getting more and more eager and rapid, and there was no telling what might happen.

But Charley had never loaded a gun before in all his life. Still, it was a very simple piece of business, and he knew all about it. He had read of it and heard it talked of ever so many times, and there was Jim loading his own gun within ten feet, just as if he meant to show how it should be done. He could imitate Jim, at all events; and so he thought he did, to the smallest item; and he hurried to get through as quickly, for it would not do to be beaten by a country boy. And then, too, there was old Napoleon Bonaparte that is to say Nap beginning to yelp like mad.

They were just on the edge of the swamp, and it was, as Jim said, "a great place for rabbits."

"He's after one! There he comes!"

"Where? Where? I see him! Oh, what a big one!"


Charley had been gazing, open mouthed, at the rapid leaps of that frightened white rabbit, and wondering if he would ever sit down long enough to be shot at, with that dog less than half a dozen rods behind him.

He was in a tremendous hurry, that rabbit, and he would hardly have "taken a seat" if one had been offered him; but he was down now, for Jim had not only fired at him he had hit him.

"One for me. I meant to let you have the first shot. Never mind; you take the next one. Keep your eyes out. He may be along before I'm loaded."

Old Nap's interest in a rabbit seemed to cease the moment it was killed, for he was now ranging the bushes at quite a distance.

"Here comes one. Quick, Charley! He's stopped to listen for the dog."

So he had, like a very unwise rabbit, and was perking up his long ears within quite easy range of Charley's gun as he levelled it.

"Cock it! cock it!" shouted Jim. "Cock your gun!"

"Oh, I forgot that."

But he knew how; and when he once more lifted his gun, and pulled the triggers, one after the other, they came down handsomely.

"Only snapped your caps?" said Jim... Continue reading book >>

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