Where a man would normally suppose a beast’s actions, here he was
undoubtedly wrong. What should have shaken or tremored was uprooted com-
pletely. Whatever was to come from behind the trees and their shadows produced
a strength and fury of both mechanical efficiency and epidemic pronunciation.
Corbitt put his hand on Preacher Hutson’s shoulder as he sunk lower into the river,
mouthing prayers until they formed small bubbles popping at the surface. Finally
with an unearthing of saplings, the boar emerged onto the shore still tossing his
head while spreading his front hooves to bring him to a halt. In all the bulk he was
made of, he reflected no light. A thick coat of short, black fur, a black tongue, black
eyes, and assuredly many layers of armored black hide. Only two contorted tusks of
ivory contrasted the rest of him. Before any of the men could move, Carter looked
them over, shaking his head slowly. Smithson stood shaking as he put his thumb on
the hammer of his pistol and turned his eyes to Carter to await the signal.
The boar paid no mind to the squealing piglets, his own panting grew au-
dible. He trotted the length of the shore, from the tree line to the river’s edge, a few
times before rolling into a small pool by the pen. There he wallowed, spinning and
covering himself with the moist earth. He spun without stopping. The men looked
on and saw their fear as an effortless performance, what might quickly become
execution. He began diving into the pool; he tossed mud and water onto his hind
parts, letting out low, guttural bellows.
Hamilton steadied his younger brother who had begun to rock violently
as he watched the hog. First, he clasped his far shoulder, bringing him closer to
himself; then, he whispered to watch Mr. Carter instead. The man had now stooped
down to be even with his hound, whispering inaudibly into the flap of his ear as
he undid the clasp of the muzzle. Still, he steadied the dog, waiting on the boar.
When he finally stood from the mud pit, now cleared of any standing water, every
man leaned forward. The hog turned his back on the Suwannee, dripping and cool,
to find a stout pine to scratch and rub himself against. Running his body back and
forth as a saw blade, he dried his drenched pelt, exposing the full profile of his
hull to the river and its hunters. The small tap of the Colt’s hammer could barely be