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iron jaws; and, at length, while the hoarse summons of the heath-cock sank into silence, and the ousel and the kingfisher cowered beneath the shelter of the caverned bank, a magnificent grey gosshawk came gliding down from bis mountain eyrie on his balanced pinions, and after wheeling hither and thither for a little space, alighted on the bare stag-horned crest of an old oak beside the stream, and ever and anon renewed the terrors of the feathered tremblers of the wold by his shrill, shivering cry. But now another sound arose, faint and far, swelling up

from the westward, on the wings of the gentle wind ; a strange, confused, yet harmonious murmur. For a long time it continued rising and falling with the rise and fall of the breeze, scarcely distinguishable above the tinkling music of the river, and the fitful cadences of the air among the tree-tops, unless it were by something indescribable, save to those who have heard it, of wild, spirit-stirring, yet half-discordant music.

Still, however, it came nigher and more nigh, pealing up to the ear, had there been any human ear to listen it, until the shrill, sharp, savage trebles, and the deeper ringing bass-notes of a full pack of stag-hounds, running upon a breast-high scent, became distinctly audible. The falcon, which, up to this time had sat motionless, as if she had been a portion of the weatherbeaten oak, upon her airy perch, now spread her broad vans to the breeze, and darted away like an arrow from the bow, soaring up, up, into the empyrean, until she was almost beyond the ken of human vision, a mere speck in the azure firmament. The otter, which alone of the living things had maintained its ground in the falcon's presence, grumbling and hissing, cat-like, over its scaly prey, now raised its round head, erected its ears, and listened anxiously to the blended din which still rang nearer and nearer, until the echoes of the neighboring hills began to reverberate the cry, and the coppice itself, under the verge of which it lay, seemed to thrill and reply to the cheery crash of that dog-music.

Then launching itself into the glittering waters it oared its way with its webbed feet, and steered itself with its muscular tail down the glancing shallows, until having gained the deeps, it dived in the mid pool, and arose no more above the surface, until it had gained the shelter of its secluded holt beneath the tortuous roots of the water-loving willows.

A moment or two afterwards a brood of well-grown moorfowl came whirring along the wind from beyond the heathery knolls among which they had been flushed by the staghounds; and, crossing the bed of the river and its little valley, skimmed out of sight beyond the southern eminences. Ere this, the tongue of every several hound was distinguishable from its mate's; and the nice ear of a practised hunter could have perceived with certainty which of the pack were foremost on the traces of the quarry; and now the brushwood of the coppice began indeed to crash audibly to the ear, and quiver visibly to the eye, as if torn asunder by the passage of many bodies in swift motion.

A deep, hoarse croak was next heard; and, a moment later, a large raven, grizzled about the head with age, sailed over the low tree-tops, and perched elf secure and well satisfied

very scathed oak-branch from which the gosshawk had so recently departed; then, almost ere its wings were folded, a noble stag, a royal hart of ten, as a forester would have termed him, with cupped antlers, broke from the underwood, almost as black from the effects of toil and sweat as the illomened bird above him—and after hesitating for an instant on the brink, plunged into the shallow river, dashing the spray high into the air, and, bounding with a sure foot over the slippery and treacherous pebbles, rushed up the channel, until, as the headmost hounds appeared on the farther side, he turned to bay in a deep narrow cove or recess of the rocks, where both his flanks were protected by the abrupt crags, while for the front, his own broad and branching antlers seemed to be guard enough against a host of foes.

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And need there was enough that the staunch quarry should be so guarded; for, yelling with redoubled zeal and fury as they ran from the scent into view, hound after hound plunged down the precipitous descent, and stemmed the rapid current in pursuit, until full twenty couple of black or brindled talbots were raving at close quarters around the royal hart, hemming him in on every side, yet daunted by his bold aspect, and the fierce raking thrusts of his terrible brow antlers upon their gallant game.

Once or twice some bolder hound than his fellows would dash in with a shrill, snarling bay; but the pack hung aloof, and at each fresh assault the brave adventurer fell back gored by the horns or battered by the hoofs of the stag, till after each assault all seemed reluctant to attack again, and well content to bay and clamor at safe distance.

Meanwhile the stag, recovering gradually from his exhaustion as the fresh air blew full and inspiritingly into his wideexpanded nostrils, and the cool waters laved his foam-embossed flanks and panting breast refreshingly, wasted no efforts upon enemies which evidently dared not charge him home, but watched them with a wary eye, and lowered antlers only, and seemed to be abiding his time when he should burst through their clamorous circle, and trust once again to the fleetness of his well-tried foot.

But at the very point of time when he seemed to be almost in the act of bounding over their heads, and betaking himself once again to the broad moorlands, the gallop of a horse at full speed came charging up the rocky bank; and, almost simultaneously with the sound, a gallant steed and a gay rider emerged from the coppice, and stood out, drawn in clear relief against the glowing sky, upon the verge of a tall crag opposite.

The horse was sorely blown, however; and the declivity from the crag on which he stood into the channel of the brook was so steep and abrupt, that, had he been in the full vigor of his unwearied speed and strength, it would have tasked his powers fearfully to try the descent over those slippery limestone ledges

But as his rider cleared the covert, and saw the tumultuous and confused group almost beneath his feet, be pulled hard upon the bridle, and rising erect in his stirrups, uttered a long, clear whoop of joyous exultation; and then, without so much as pausing to collect his breath, raised to his lips the ivory-tipped bugle which hung at his right side, and blew the well-known cadences of the “mort," till wood and rock and mountain rang, and a faint answering halloo, and a far distant bugle-blast, responded to his note of triumph.

He was a tall and powerful young man, of some twenty-six or twenty-seven years, with a singularly dark complexion, fine black eyes, features of a keen, aquiline outline, and long, curled love-locks of the same hue with his eyes and stronglypencilled brows, floating down over the collar of his doublet. He wore no hair upon his face—although that was the day of imperials and Vandyke beards, almost as much as it was of silken scarfs, and gilded spurs, and belted swords on the hip of every one claiming to be a gentleman by birth and lineage except a small, dark moustache on his short, well-formed

upper lip; but his dress, though evidently fashioned with especial regard to the hunting-field, was both elaborate and costly. It consisted of a rich, half-military coat of bullet-proof buff leather, lined and slashed with tawney silk, and adorned with silver loops and fringes. His falling collar was of fine cambric, profusely frilled with the richest Flanders lace, as were the cuffs of his sleeves, and the knees of his buff breeches, though in the latter instance this costly decoration was concealed by the large tops of his heavy riding boots. He had shoulder-knots, and a scarf of rich, grass-green satin, and the band of his broad-brimmed, steeple-crowned beaver was of the same color and material, all tagged and fringed with silver. A short buck-handled hunting-knife, or hanger, with a double

edged straight blade, hung from his scarf, and was the only weapon which he bore about his person, though the butts of a pair of silver-mounted pistols peered from the holsters at his saddle-bow; and the bugle, which he had just winded so skilfully and well, was suspended from a silver chain crossing the scarf and his left shoulder.

He made no pause, after the answer of his comrades reached his ear, but, seeing the nature of the ground, and its impracticable character for the surest-footed horse, sprang from his saddle in hot haste, flung his bridle-rein over the gnarled bough of an oak stump, and unsheathing his bright, keen blade, sprang down the rocks with the light steady foot of a practised cragsman. A minute, at the utmost, had not passed between the first appearance of the young cavalier on the scene of action and his springing, weapon in hand, down the craggy pass. The hounds, animated by his halloo and his bugle blast, had in the meantime rushed upon the hart with greater fierceness than they had shown before—and two or three had even fixed their fangs upon his muscular and glossy limbs. But these were beaten off, trampled or maimed, in less time than it has taken to describe it; and one, a superb jet-black bloodhound, of the true Talbot breed, “ crook-kneed and dew-lipped, like Thessalian bulls,” which had fastened on his neck, narrowly missing the jugular vein, was dashed down by a single blow of the keen cloven hoof, and the next instant transfixed and unseamed from the brisket to the shoulderblade, by the brow antlers of the infuriate stag.

At the instant when the young man leaped from the last step of the limestone ledges into the clear cold water, which was so deep where he entered it that it took him to the midthigh, and so swift, that, strong as he was and muscular, it needed all his powers and agility to stem it, the fierce animal had disembarrassed itself of all its four-footed assailants, and now made at its human enemy with a front of resolute defiance, and a countenance which, merely animal and brutish

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