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The Crucial Moment
s pressed close to the verge, where lay here a fallen branch, and there a rotten log, half sunken in mud and ooze, and again a great tangle of vines that had grown smiling to the summer sun, but now, with the slow expansion of the lake which was fed by a surcharged bayou, quite submerged in a fretwork of miry strands. The margin was fringed with saw-grass, thick and prickly, and his practised eye could discern where the original banks lay by the spears thrust up above the surface a score of feet away. Thus he was sure of his depth as he waded out staunchly, despite the cruel pricks to his sensitive naked feet. The little dog had scant philosophy; he squeaked and wheezed and wailed with the pain until the man, who had no time to kill him now--for had he heard aught or naught?--picked him up and carried him in his arms, the creature licking Hoxer's hands in an ecstasy of gratitude, and even standing on his hind-legs on his master's arm to snatch a lick upon his cheek.
In the darksome shadows, further and