James Fenimore Cooper: The Deerslayer

13. Chapter XIII. (continued)

Deerslayer laughed heartily at his own conceit, and, in a minute or two, they were both standing on the platform, selecting some object in the Ark for their target. Judith was led by curiosity to their side.

"Stand back, gal, stand a little back; these we'pons have been long loaded," said Deerslayer, "and some accident may happen in the discharge." "Then you shall not fire them! Give them both to the Delaware; or it would be better to unload them without firing."

"That's ag'in usage - and some people say, ag'in manhood; though I hold to no such silly doctrine. We must fire 'em, Judith; yes, we must fire 'em; though I foresee that neither will have any great reason to boast of his skill."

Judith, in the main, was a girl of great personal spirit, and her habits prevented her from feeling any of the terror that is apt to come over her sex at the report of fire arms. She had discharged many a rifle, and had even been known to kill a deer, under circumstances that were favorable to the effort. She submitted therefore, falling a little back by the side of Deerslayer, giving the Indian the front of the platform to himself. Chingachgook raised the weapon several times, endeavored to steady it by using both hands, changed his attitude from one that was awkward to another still more so, and finally drew the trigger with a sort of desperate indifference, without having, in reality, secured any aim at all. The consequence was, that instead of hitting the knot which had been selected for the mark, he missed the ark altogether; the bullet skipping along the water like a stone that was thrown by hand.

"Well done - Sarpent - well done -" cried Deerslayer laughing, with his noiseless glee, "you've hit the lake, and that's an expl'ite for some men! I know'd it, and as much as said it, here, to Judith; for your short we'pons don't belong to red-skin gifts. You've hit the lake, and that's better than only hitting the air! Now, stand back and let us see what white gifts can do with a white we'pon. A pistol isn't a rifle, but colour is colour."

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