"Panthers, what we-all
calls 'mountain lions,'"
observed the Old Cattleman,
wearing meanwhile the sapient
air of him who feels equipped
of his subject, "is plenty
furtive, not to say mighty
sedyoolous to skulk. That's
why a gent don't meet up with
more of 'em while pirootin'
about in the hills. Them cats
hears him, or they sees him,
an' him still ignorant tharof;
an' with that they bashfully
withdraws. Which it's to be
urged in favor of mountain
lions that they never forces
themse'fs on no gent; they're
shore considerate, that a-way,
an' speshul of themse'fs.
If one's ever hurt, you can
bet it won't be a accident.
However, it ain't for me to
go 'round impugnin' the motives
of no mountain lion; partic'lar
when the entire tribe is strangers
to me complete. But still
a love of trooth compels me
to concede that if mountain
lions ain't cowardly, they're
shore cautious a lot.
Cattle an' calves they
passes up as too bellicose,
an' none of 'em ever faces
any anamile more warlike
than a baby colt or mebby
a half-grown deer. I'm ridin'
along the Caliente once
when I hears a crashin'
in the bushes on the bluff
above-two hundred foot high,
she is, an' as sheer as
the walls of this yere tavern.
As I lifts my eyes, a fear-frenzied
mare an' colt comes chargin'
up an' projects themse'fs
over the precipice an' lands
in the valley below. They're
dead as Joolius Cжsar when
I rides onto 'em, while
a brace of mountain lions
is skirtin' up an' down
the aige of the bluff they
leaps from, mewin' an' lashin'
their long tails in hot
enthoosiasm. Shore, the
cats has been chasin' the
mare an' foal, an' they
locoes 'em to that extent
they don't know where they're
headin' an' makes the death
jump I relates. I bangs
away with my six-shooter,
but beyond givin' the mountain
lions a convulsive start
I can't say I does any execootion.
They turns an' goes streakin'
it through the pine woods
like a drunkard to a barn
"Timid? Shore! They're
that timid, seminary girls
compared to 'em is as sternly
courageous as a passel of
buccaneers. Out in Mitchell's
canyon a couple of the Lee-Scott
riders cuts the trail of
a mountain lion and her
two kittens. Now whatever
do you-all reckon this old
tabby does? Basely deserts
her offsprings without even
barin' a tooth, an' the
cow-punchers takes 'em gently
by their tails an' beats
out their joovenile brains.
That's straight; that mother
lion goes swarmin' up the
canyon like she ain't got
a minute to live. An' you
can gamble the limit that
where a anamile sees its
children perish without
frontin' up for war, it
don't possess the commonest
roodiments of sand. Sech,
son, is mountain lions.
"It's one evenin'
in the Red Light when Colonel
Sterett, who's got through
his day's toil on that Coyote
paper he's editor of, onfolds
concernin' a panther round-up
which he pulls off in his
"'This panther hunt,'
says Colonel Sterett, as
he fills his third tumbler,
'occurs when mighty likely
I'm goin' on seventeen winters.
I'm a leader among my young
companions at the time;
in fact, I allers is. An'
I'm proud to say that my
soopremacy that a-way is
doo to the dom'nant character
of my intellects. I'm ever
bright an' sparklin' as
a child, an' I recalls how
my aptitoode for learnin'
promotes me to be regyarded
as the smartest lad in my
set. If thar's visitors
to the school, or if the
selectman invades that academy
to sort o' size us up, the
teacher allers plays me
on 'em. I'd go to the front
for the outfit.
Which I'm wont on sech
harrowin' o'casions to recite
a ode-the teacher's done
wrote it himse'f-an' which
is entitled Napoleon's Mad
Career. Thar's twenty-four
stanzas to it; an' while
these interlopin' selectmen
sets thar lookin' owley
an' sagacious, I'd wallop
loose with the twenty-four
verses, stampin' up and
down, an' accompanyin' said
recitations with sech a
multitood of reckless gestures,
it comes plenty clost to
backin' everybody plumb
outen the room.
Yere's the first verse:
I'd drink an' sw'ar an' r'ar an'
An' fall down in the mud,
While the y'earth for forty miles
Is kivered with my blood.
"'You-all can see from that
speciment that our school-master
ain't simply flirtin' with the
muses when he originates that
epic; no, sir, he means business;
an' whenever I throws it into
the selectmen, I does it jestice.
The trustees used to silently
line out for home when I finishes,
an' never a yeep. It stuns 'em;
it shore fills 'em to the brim!
"'As I gazes r'arward,'
goes on the Colonel, as by one
rapt impulse he uplifts both his
eyes an' his nosepaint, 'as I
gazes r'arward, I says, on them
sun-filled days, an' speshul if
ever I gets betrayed into talkin'
about 'em, I can hardly t'ar myse'f
from the subject. I explains yeretofore,
that not only by inclination but
by birth, I'm a shore-enough 'ristocrat.
This captaincy of local fashion
I assoomes at a tender age. I
wears the record as the first
child to don shoes throughout
the entire summer in that neighborhood;
an' many a time an' oft does my
yoothful but envy-eaten compeers
lambaste me for the insultin'
innovation. But I sticks to my
moccasins; an' to-day shoes in
the Bloo Grass is almost as yooniversal
as the licker habit.
"'Thar dawns a hour, however,
when my p'sition in the van of
Kaintucky ton comes within a ace
of bein' ser'ously shook. It's
on my way to school one dewy mornin'
when I gets involved all inadvertent
in a onhappy rupture with a polecat.
I never does know how the misonderstandin'
starts. After all, the seeds of
said dispoote is by no means important;
it's enough to say that polecat
finally has me thoroughly convinced.
"'Followin' the difference
an' my defeat, I'm witless enough
to keep goin' on to school, whereas
I should have returned homeward
an' cast myse'f upon my parents
as a sacred trust. Of course,
when I'm in school I don't go
impartin' my troubles to the other
chil'en; I emyoolates the heroism
of the Spartan boy who stands
to be eat by a fox, an' keeps
'em to myself. But the views of
my late enemy is not to be smothered;
they appeals to my young companions;
who tharupon puts up a most onneedful
riot of coughin's an' sneezin's.
But nobody knows me as the party
who's so pungent.
"'It's a tryin' moment.
I can see that, once I'm located,
I'm goin' to be as onpop'lar as
a b'ar in a hawg pen; I'll come
tumblin' from my pinnacle in that
proud commoonity as the glass
of fashion an' the mold of form.
You can go your bottom peso, the
thought causes me to feel plenty
"'At this peril I has a
inspiration; as good, too, as
I ever entertains without the
aid of rum. I determines to cast
the opprobrium on some other boy
an' send the hunt of gen'ral indignation
sweepin' along his trail.
"'Thar's a innocent infant
who's a stoodent at this temple
of childish learnin' an' his name
is Riley Bark. This Riley is one
of them giant children who's only
twelve an' weighs three hundred
pounds. An' in proportions as
Riley is a son of Anak, physical,
he's dwarfed mental; he ain't
half as well upholstered with
brains as a shepherd dog. That's
right; Riley's intellects, is
like a fly in a saucer of syrup,
they struggles 'round plumb slow.
I decides to uplift Riley to the
public eye as the felon who's disturbin'
that seminary's sereenity. Comin'
to this decision, I p'ints at him
where he's planted four seats ahead,
all tangled up in a spellin' book,
an' says in a loud whisper to a
child who's sittin' next:
"'"Throw him out!"
"'That's enough. No gent
will ever realize how easy it
is to direct a people's sentiment
ontil he take a whirl at the game.
In two minutes by the teacher's
bull's-eye copper watch, every
soul knows it's pore Riley; an'
in three, the teacher's done drug
Riley out doors by the ha'r of
his head an' chased him home.
Gents, I look back on that yoothful
feat as a triumph of diplomacy;
it shore saved my standin' as
the Beau Brummel of the Bloo Grass.
"'Good old days, them!'
observes the Colonel mournfully,
'an' ones never to come ag'in!
My sternest studies is romances,
an' the peroosals of old tales
as I tells you-all prior fills
me full of moss an' mockin' birds
in equal parts. I reads deep of
Walter Scott an' waxes to be a
sharp on Moslems speshul. I dreams
of the Siege of Acre, an' Richard
the Lion Heart; an' I simply can't
sleep nights for honin' to hold
a tournament an' joust a whole
lot for some fair lady's love.
"'Once I commits the error
of my career by joustin' with
my brother Jeff. This yere Jeff
is settin' on the bank of the
Branch fishin' for bullpouts at
the time, an' Jeff don't know
I'm hoverin' near at all. Jeff's
reedic'lous fond of fishin'; which
he'd sooner fish than read Paradise
Lost. I'm romancin' along, sim'larly
bent, when I notes Jeff perched
on the bank. To my boyish imagination
Jeff at once turns to be a Paynim.
I drops my bait box, couches my
fishpole, an' emittin' a impromptoo
warcry, charges him. It's the
work of a moment; Jeff's onhossed
an' falls into the Branch.
"'But thar's bitterness
to follow vict'ry. Jeff emerges
like Diana from the bath an' frales
the wamus off me with a club.
Talk of puttin' a crimp in folks!
Gents, when Jeff's wrath is assuaged
I'm all on one side like the leanin'
tower of Pisa. Jeff actooally
confers a skew-gee to my spinal
"'A week later my folks
takes me to a doctor. That practitioner
puts on his specs an' looks me
over with jealous care.
with him, Doc?" says my father.
the physician, "only your
son Willyum's five inches out
"'Then he rigs a contraption
made up of guy-ropes an' stay-laths,
an' I has to wear it; an' mebby
in three or four weeks or so he's
got me warped back into the perpendic'lar.'
"'But how about this cat
hunt?' asks Dan Boggs. 'Which
I don't aim to be introosive none,
but I'm camped yere through the
second drink waitin' for it, an'
these procrastinations is makn'
me kind o' batty.'
"'That panther hunt is like
this,' says the Colonel, turnin'
to Dan. 'At the age of seventeen,
me an' eight or nine of my intimate
brave comrades founds what we-all
denom'nates as the "Chevy
Chase Huntin' Club." Each
of us maintains a passel of odds
an' ends of dogs, an' at stated
intervals we convenes on hosses,
an' with these fourscore curs
at our tails goes yellin' an'
skally-hootin' up an' down the
countryside allowin' we're shore
a band of Nimrods.
"'The Chevy Chasers ain't
been in bein' as a institootion
over long when chance opens a gate
to ser'ous work. The deep snows
in the Eastern mountains it looks
like has done drove a panther into
our neighborhood. You could hear
of him on all sides. Folks glimpses
him now an' then. They allows he's
about the size of a yearlin' calf;
an' the way he pulls down sech feeble
people as sheep or lays desolate
some he'pless henroost don't bother
him a bit. This panther spreads
a horror over the county. Dances,
pra'er meetin's, an' even poker
parties is broken up, an' the social
life of that region begins to bog
down. Even a weddin' suffers; the
bridesmaids stayin' away lest this
ferocious monster should show up
in the road an' chaw one of 'em
while she's en route for the scene
of trouble. That's gospel trooth!
the pore deserted bride has to heel
an' handle herse'f an' never a friend
to yoonite her sobs with hers doorin'
that weddin' ordeal. The old ladies
present shakes their heads a heap
"'"It's a worse augoory,"
says one, "than the hoots
of a score of squinch owls."
"'When this reign of terror
is at its height, the local eye
is rolled appealin'ly towards
us Chevy Chasers. We rises to
the opportoonity. Day after day
we're ridin' the hills an' vales,
readin' the milk white snow for
tracks. An' we has success. One
mornin' I comes up on two of the
Brackenridge boys an' five more
of the Chevy Chasers settin' on
their hosses at the Skinner cross
roads. Bob Crittenden's gone to
turn me out, they says. Then they
p'ints down to a handful of close-wove
bresh an' stunted timber an' allows
that this maraudin' cat-o-mount
is hidin' thar; they sees him
go skulkin' in.
"'Gents, I ain't above admittin'
that the news puts my heart to
a canter. I'm brave; but conflicts
with wild an' savage beasts is
to me a novelty an' while I faces
my fate without a flutter, I'm
yere to say I'd sooner been in
pursoot of minks or raccoons or
some varmint whose grievous cap'bilities
I can more ackerately stack up
an' in whose merry ways I'm better
versed. However, the dauntless
blood of my grandsire mounts in
my cheek; an' as if the shade
of that old Trojan is thar personal
to su'gest it, I searches forth
a flask an' renoos my sperit;
thus qualified for perils, come
in what form they may, I resolootely
stands my hand.
"'Thar's forty dogs if thar's
one in our company as we pauses
at the Skinner cross-roads. An'
when the Crittenden yooth returns,
he brings with him the Rickett
boys an' forty added dogs. Which
it's worth a ten-mile ride to
get a glimpse of that outfit of
canines! Thar's every sort onder
the canopy: thar's the stolid
hound, the alert fice, the sapient
collie; that is thar's individyool
beasts wherein the hound, or fice,
or collie seems to preedominate
as a strain. The trooth is thar's
not that dog a-whinin' about our
hosses' fetlocks who ain't proudly
descended from fifteen different
tribes, an' they shorely makes
a motley mass meetin'. Still,
they're good, zealous dogs; an'
as they're going to go for'ard
an' take most of the resks of
that panther, it seems invidious
to criticize 'em.
"'One of the Twitty boys
rides down an' puts the eighty
or more dogs into the bresh. The
rest of us lays back an' strains
our eyes. Thar he is! A shout
goes up as we descries the panther
stealin' off by a far corner.
He's headin' along a hollow that's
full of bresh an' baby timber
an' runs parallel with the pike.
Big an' yaller he is; we can tell
from the slight flash we gets
of him as he darts into a second
clump of bushes. With a cry-what
young Crittenden calls a "view
halloo,"-we goes stampeedin'
down the pike in pursoot.
"'Our dogs is sta'nch; they
shore does themse'fs proud. Singin'
in twenty keys, reachin' from
growls to yelps an' from yelps
to shrillest screams, they pushes
dauntlessly on the fresh trail
of their terrified quarry. Now
an' then we gets a squint of the
panther as he skulks from one
copse to another jest ahead. Which
he's goin' like a arrow; no mistake!
As for us Chevy Chasers, we parallels
the hunt, an' continyoos poundin'
the Skinner turnpike abreast of
the pack, ever an' anon givin'
a encouragin' shout as we briefly
sights our game.
"'Gents,' says Colonel Sterett,
as he ag'in refreshes hims'ef,
'it's needless to go over that
hunt in detail. We hustles the
flyin' demon full eighteen miles,
our faithful dogs crowdin' close
an' breathless at his coward heels.
Still, they don't catch up with
him; he streaks it like some saffron
"'Only once does we approach
within strikin' distance; that's
when he crosses at old Stafford's
whisky still. As he glides into
view, Crittenden shouts:
"'For myse'f I'm prepared.
I've got one of these misguided
cap-an'-ball six-shooters that's
built doorin' the war; an' I cuts
that hardware loose! This weapon
seems a born profligate of lead,
for the six chambers goes off together.
Which you should have seen the Chevy
Chasers dodge! An' well they may;
that broadside ain't in vain! My
aim is so troo that one of the r'armost
dogs evolves a howl an' rolls over;
then he sets up gnawin' an' lickin'
his off hind laig in frantic alternations.
That hunt is done for him. We leaves
him doctorin' himse'f an' picks
him up two hours later on our triumphant
"'As I states, we harries
that foogitive panther for[Pg
107] eighteen miles an' in our
hot ardor founders two hosses.
Fatigue an' weariness begins to
overpower us; also our prey weakens
along with the rest. In the half
glimpses we now an' ag'in gets
of him it's plain that both pace
an' distance is tellin' fast.
Still, he presses on; an' as thar's
no spur like fear, that panther
holds his distance.
"'But the end comes. We've
done run him into a rough, wild
stretch of country where settlements
is few an' cabins roode. Of a
sudden, the panther emerges onto
the road an' goes rackin' along
the trail. We pushes our spent
steeds to the utmost.
"'Thar's a log house ahead;
out in the stump-filled lot in
front is a frowsy woman an' five
small children. The panther leaps
the rickety worm-fence an' heads
straight as a bullet for the cl'arin!
Horrors! the sight freezes our
marrows! Mad an' savage, he's
doo to bite a hunk outen that
devoted household! Mutooally callin'
to each other, we goads our horses
to the utmost. We gain on the
panther! He may wound but he won't
have time to slay that fam'ly.
"'Gents, it's a soopreme
moment! The panther makes for
the female squatter an' her litter,
we pantin' an' pressin' clost
behind. The panther is among 'em;
the woman an' the children seems
transfixed by the awful spectacle
an' stands rooted with open eyes
an' mouths. Our emotions shore
"'Now ensooes a scene to
smite the hardiest of us with
dismay. No sooner does the panther
find himse'f in the midst of that
he'pless bevy of little ones,
than he stops, turns round abrupt,
an' sets down on his tail; an'
then upliftin' his muzzle he busts
into shrieks an' yells an' howls
an' cries, a complete case of
dog hysterics! That's what he
is, a great yeller dog; his reason
is now a wrack because we harasses
him the eighteen miles.[Pg 108]
"'Thar's a ugly outcast
of a squatter, mattock in hand,
comes tumblin' down the hillside
from some'ers out back of the
shanty where he's been grubbin':
"'"What be you-all
eediots chasin' my dog for?"
demands this onkempt party. Then
he menaces us with the implement.
"'We makes no retort but
stands passive. The great orange
brute whose nerves has been torn
to rags creeps to the squatter
an' with mournful howls explains
what we've made him suffer.
"'No, thar's nothin' further
to do an' less to be said. That
cavalcade, erstwhile so gala an'
buoyant, drags itself wearily
homeward, the exhausted dogs in
the r'ar walkin' stiff an' sore
like their laigs is wood. For
more'n a mile the complainin'
howls of the hysterical yeller
dog is wafted to our years. Then
they ceases; an' we figgers his
sympathizin' master has done took
him into the shanty an' shet the
"'No one comments on this
adventure, not a word is heard.
Each is silent ontil we mounts
the Big Murray hill. As we collects
ourse'fs on this eminence one
of the Brackenridge boys holds
up his hand for a halt. "Gents,"
he says, as-hosses, hunters an'
dogs-we-all gathers 'round, "gents,
I moves you the Chevy Chase Huntin'
Club yereby stands adjourned sine
die." Thar's a moment's pause,
an' then as by one impulse every
gent, hoss an' dog, says "Ay!"
It's yoonanimous, an' from that
hour till now the Chevy Chase
Huntin' Club ain't been nothin'
save tradition. But that panther
shore disappears; it's the end
of his vandalage; an' ag'in does
quadrilles, pra'rs, an poker resoom
their wonted sway. That's the
end; an' now, gents, if Black
Jack will caper to his dooties
we'll uplift our drooped energies
with the usual forty drops.'"
вы заметили какие-либо ошибки на сайте или хотите
что-либо посоветовать, поругать, похвалить пишите