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from whence the noise came, and, although the mist was so dense as to prevent their seeing but a short distance off, the near approach of swift feet was obvious from the heavy beating on the greensward. Within some fifty yards the indistinct form of a stag swept by, closely followed by a couple of large grizzly deerhounds. One was a little in advance of his fellow, and just as he was abreast of Blanch he made a spring at the throat of the deer, but missing his hold, he fastened for a moment upon his haunch, but only for a moment. For the deer, with a sudden bound, shook him off, and with a mighty leap rose in the air with the lightness of a gossamer, as if he had wings to lift his body from the tame earth, and then, turning short round, faced his foes. Without a moment's hesitation the second hound ran into his victim, but the stag received him on his bent antlers, and ripped his chest open from the throat downwards. The warm current of his life issued
from the gaping wound, but still he gave his bold front to the enemy, and as a voice cheered him on with “ Have at him, Ringwood,” the noble dog fixed his fangs deep into the deer's throat and pulled him to the ground.
A loud, ringing, triumphant halloo now burst from the lips of an approaching form, looming through the mist, and the succeeding second brought a man of herculean mould in view, who Blanch at once recognised as a notorious poacher and outlaw, called Ned Swiftfoot. He was little more than six feet in height, with the broad shoulders and expanded chest of a gladiator of old. His limbs were thick and round, and the full muscles were as palpably developed in them as the fibres upon a vine-leaf. Beneath a cap roughly constructed of a badger's skin, short, crisp, light-brown curls strayed negligently, and as it was placed jauntily on one side, it gave the wearer a swaggering, daring appearance. Courage and a reckless spirit
glistened in his large, full, fiery eyes, and health beamed in his dark olive-tanned cheeks. Over a black velveteen jacket a short pouch was slung, and across it, from the other shoulder, a deep and capacious game-bag. His legs were incased in short leather gaiters, fastened to a pair of coarse corduroy breeches, and from the tips of his lace boots some short spikes abutted, to facilitate his jump when pursued. Round his waist a belt was buckled, holding a sheath knife, and a coil of thin rope was twisted in it.
Intent upon the prostrate game, he did not perceive that he was closely watched by Blanch and Orion, who were partly concealed by a thick bush, a few yards distant.
“Who-whoop!" shouted Ned, “who-whoop!" and, rushing to the head of the deer, he fell upon his knees, and unsheathed the knife fastened to his girdle.
* Hold !” cried Blanch, coming forward,
“ I beseech ye not to kill him.
Pray do not. He is my pet of the whole herd.”
With a look of profound surprise the poacher started to his feet, and gazed at the interrupters to his sanguinary proceedings steadfastly and in silence.
“ Do not fear my having accidentally witnessed this act,” observed Blanch, colouring slightly under the steady look of the outlaw. “ Although you are known to me,” continued she,
“ believe me there is no cause to apprehend my voice being joined in the many to bring you to punishment. I care too little about your general depredations ; but this I must beg of you to forego."
“ I never, till now,” replied Ned, taking off his cap and bowing with all the grace he possessed, “I never, till now, my lady, felt the pleasure of setting a buck
buck free, although I have in many a one's capture.
But,” continued he, calling off his hounds and permitting the prisoner to fly from the scene of his discomforture, “I take far more delight in letting him go than I did in the first I ever pulled down, and, God knows! that was a gratifying moment to
“ I have heard you were polite,” rejoined Blanch, " and now I know that you are so. Accept of this,” continued she, offering him some gold from her purse, an equivalent for your compliance.”
" I thank you for your kindness," returned the poacher, and there expression of ill-concealed haughtiness as he waved his hand in refusal; “ but I never receive money, except that which I earn."
** Your forbearance has earned this,” added Blanch, still extending the gift.
"'Tis too tame a mode to profit by,” said the outlaw. “I must beg to decline receiving it. And yet,” continued he,