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round into the chamber of his rifle, but waited, calmly leading the running snowshoe with the blackened sight of his barrel.

He could have dropped the rabbit four times while Little Bird was smoothly pulling back on his waxed string and bending his bow to its full arch, but he didn't, because no one had to tell him that the first shot belonged to his Indian friend and brother who spotted the animal begin his frightened dash, before Emmett. This time the sharp twang and the soft swoosh of the arrow's release and its swift flight and its thumping contact with the body of the rabbit was not drowned out by the unnatural sound of exploding gunpowder. Little Bird had stun-killed the animal with a direct blow above his tiny heart just as he was about to escape into a hole over thirty yards away.

Both men stood still for a moment, making sure that there was no more activity in the area before moving towards their catch. Emmett placed the safety on his rifle while Little Bird made sure both his hits were dead by breaking their necks. Emmett's pair, of course, had been killed instantly, and there was only a small inedible portion missing from the front of each of their heads where his bullets had ripped away some bone. If he had hit the rabbits anywhere else, there would have been very little left to eat. But he hadn't, and so now he had his first clean kills as a hunter.

They gathered the four rabbits together, and Little Bird made a slight incision in each of their stomachs to check their livers for spots which would mean they had some springtime or early-summer disease and could not be eaten. But there were no spots on any of them which was not unusual, because they were rather high up in the hills where the temperature seldom rose to the type of sultry heat which supposedly abets such disease in rabbits.

Emmett watched with a certain amount of amazement as Little Bird deftly moved his fingers around the insides of the rabbits, examining their innards and skillfully handling their entrails, searching for some trace of disorder. His amazement was caused by the obvious excitement that Little Bird was experiencing as he dealt with the warm bodies of the freshly killed animals. His eyes were wide and alive with a sort of spiritual enthusiasm, and in fact his whole body seemed involved in a climaxing orgasm that wasn't sexual, but rather religious. Sweat poured out of him and his muscles trembled and his mouth watered and his face jumped and twitched, while his whole body shook with the death experience. No [end page 371]


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