THE RAINBOW BOOK
as of a stick against a branch—which caused her to stop and listen. She knew what the sound meant.
" That's one of those poachers: he's knocked down a pheasant, I'll be bound!" said the gamekeeper's daughter to herself. " I'll just be after him!" and, gathering her skirts close around her, she crept through into a thick plantation. She had the intrepid fearlessness of her father, whose companion on his rounds she had been, when no danger was thought to be afoot, ever since she was old enough to ride pickaback. It came quite natural to her to help him, and though the old grandmother grumbled at her boyish ways she said nothing, for the child was obedient enough, and could read and write and sew; and, moreover, her son would brook no interference with his treasure—especially since her mother had died.
" Drop that! " cried Nancy. " Who's there ?"
Hearing only a girl's voice, a rough-looking fellow emerged grinning from behind a tree, with the dead bird he had just picked up in his hand. A limp bag was slung over his shoulder, a stout staff was in his other hand, and a snarling " lurcher " dog slunk at his feet.
" Steady, Muffins!" said the man, giving the cowering animal a gentle kick as a reminder. " Now, Missy, what can I do for you ?"