Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

To drive the deer with hound and horn,
Earl Percy took his way.

Chevy Chase.

But, see,

his face is black, and full of blood ;
His eye-balls further out than when he lived,
Staring full ghostly, like a strangled man :
His hair upreared, his nostrils stretched,
His hands abroad, displayed, as one that grasped with struggling,
Add tugg'd for life, and was by strength subdued.

SHAKESPEARE.

Hark! I hear the sound of coaches !
The hour of attack approaches !
To your arms, brave boys, and load!

Beggars' Opera.

On the ensuing day, Amherst and his host sét out on horseback, accompanied by O'Gollochar, and attended by several Highlanders on foot. They forded the river, and crossed the valley, and a little before night-fall they entered the

mouth of one of those glens, bringing down tributary streams, from that great mountain range, lying between the districts of Badenoch and Blair. The hills on both sides rose with steep acclivities, covered in most places with a forest of magnificent pines, but occasionally exhibiting precipitous rocks, or bare shattered stony fronts, where all vegetation was destroyed by the CODtinual fall of loose materials. The path along which they rode was one of those slippery tracks, so common in mountainous countries, and every now and then, the aid of the stout attendants on foot became necessary, to prevent the horses from sliding down among the loose debris. They forded numerous torrents, roaring over the cliffs in cataracts, and appearing like sheeted spectres, when seen amidst the obscurity of night, that deepened the blackness of the yawning ravines down which they poured.

At length, after many hours hazardous riding, they reached a small bothy, or hovel of sod, erected by the hunters. Here a fire was soon kindled, for plenty of dry bog-fir was found ready heaped up. The custom is, that whoever avails himself of the shelter of such a place, is bound

to replace the fuel he may consume, by an equal quantity fresh gathered.

About one-third of the small area was occupied by a recently constructed heather-bed. This was ingeniously formed, by placing the new-plucked heather perpendicularly, and pressing the whole together laterally towards the walls of the bothy, so as to make a compact body, and then keeping it so, by confining it within a low sod fence, laid across the floor from one wall to the other, thus producing a couch, possessing the utmost firmness and elasticity. Here, after a hasty supper, Amherst and Lochandhu threw themselves down together to sleep, wrapped up, the one in his cloak, and the other in his plaid. O'Gollochar disposed of himself near the fire, and the rest were contented with the open air, and the shelter afforded by the lee-side of the bothy. The repose of those in the interior was short but sound. They were roused by their attendants long before the grey dawn, and after a kasty, refreshment, the party proceeded up the glen on foot, the way being no further practicable for horses.

A walk of nearly two hours brought them

[blocks in formation]

through a pass between two beetling crags, that frowned over against each other, into an amphitheatre, embosomed in the mountains, rising from either side of the stream with green sloping acclivities. A few large detached blocks of granite contributed to narrow the passage. Lochandhu told Amherst that they were here to take their stand; and they accordingly halted, and began to prepare for the sport. A number of guns were loaded and placed within reach of the gentlemen, and several large wire-haired greyhounds were put in leash, to be ready to slip at the deer if necessary:

They had not remained at their post above half an hour, when Lochandhu called to the party to keep close, and bidding Amherst look to the hills, he saw the deer bounding down their sloping sides in numerous small detachments. Distant shouts were then heard, intermingled at intervals with the deep notes of several slowhounds, and the shrill yelp of the rough Highland terriers. Confused sounds came from all directions, and the animals were seen pouring from various quarters into the glen.

The deer seemed to run together, rather as if compelled by the confined nature of the place

they were driven into, than from any inclination to intermix their various groups, for the leading harts showed a disposition to warfare, and butted violently at each other when they met. Though the motions of the vast congregated herd were tumultuous like those of swelling waters, they hardly as yet advanced towards the pass, but kept fluctuating about as if uncertain to what point they should direct their flight.

But now the shouts, and the yelling of the dogs became more and more audible, and, anon, a number of Highlanders, who had been gradually advancing in a circle, began to show themselves on the verge of the surrounding hills. Their clamours now became so incessant, as to unite into one continued volume of sound; and on a signal being given, they began to run down the steep sides of the hill, towards the army of deer below. At once the panic seized them, and they rushed down the glen towards the pass. Lochandhu cautioned Amherst to be ready with his arms, and to be particularly careful to shelter himself behind the stone where he was posted. · The dense body came thundering on, with such impetuosity, that many of the animals were jostled over into the stream.

The sportsmen

« AnteriorContinuar »