THE SHUDDER OF A BRANCH
Antonio continued to crouch behind our chairs. He did not look over the five feet of brush which sheltered the post. His thin body was motionless, his eyes half closed. Even the wind seemed reluctant to stir his tattered clothing. Suddenly his head shot up. He opened his eyes and with a single change of expression indicated a point to our right. We swung quietly and peered in the direction he had signaled. There was nothing visible but six-foot clusters of mountain brush and low, jagged rock. Antonio did not move.
"Mira." His lips formed the word, "Jabal�e."
Near the gray rock, a branch shuddered, then moved to one side. Between it and the rock, a black figure emerged. The boar moved slowly. It had not scented us. Little piglike feet took deliberate, thoughtful steps. It had escaped the dogs and was seeking a place to rest. Directly toward us it came, 50, then 45 yards away. Antonio raised his hand to delay an impatient shot. Closer and closer the boar picked its way. Soon it would have the scent. Antonio waited—calm—then dropped his hand. The Holland & Holland .300 Magnum shattered the stillness. The boar raised its head, lowered it, raised it again, with one movement swung its clumsy body sideways, lunging toward the nearby brush. Two yards from where it had first scented us, it dropped heavily to the rocky ground, rolled, righted itself and fell a last time.
"Bueno," Antonio grinned at me.
With glasses we surveyed the kill. Two hundred pounds, perhaps more. My partner turned to look at Antonio. He had shot with the boy before and knew his service well. Still, he had to study once more the simple peasant face. For probably the 50th time, he left unanswered the mystery of the boy's hearing which had detected the sound of the animal's silent coming minutes before it was visible. Antonio's face was immobile. The boy had again returned his senses to the woods and rocks about him.
Nearby, another rifle sent its charge into the brush.
"What do you think it was?" I asked Jos�. Three more shots, rapidly.
"Could be boar or buck," he whispered. "Be ready. There must have been more than one. He probably got the first one, but maybe not the second."
DEATH OF A BUCK