The Last of the Plainsmen
Part 4 out of 4
On the way back to camp, we encountered Moze and Don coming out
of the break where we had started Sounder on the trail. The paws
of both hounds were yellow with dust, which proved they had been
down under the rim wall. Jones doubted not in the least that they
had chased a lion.
Upon examination, this break proved to be one of the two which
Clarke used for trails to his wild horse corral in the canyon.
According to him, the distance separating them was five miles by
the rim wall, and less than half that in a straight line.
Therefore, we made for the point of the forest where it ended
abruptly in the scrub oak. We got into camp, a fatigued lot of
men, horses and dogs. Jones appeared particularly happy, and his
first move, after dismounting, was to stretch out the lion skin
and measure it.
"Ten feet, three inches and a half!" he sang out.
"Shore it do beat hell!" exclaimed Jim in tones nearer to
excitement than any I had ever heard him use.
"Old Tom beats, by two inches, any cougar I ever saw," continued
Jones. "He must have weighed more than three hundred. We'll set
about curing the hide. Jim, stretch it well on a tree, and we'll
take a hand in peeling off the fat."
All of the party worked on the cougar skin that afternoon. The
gristle at the base of the neck, where it met the shoulders, was
so tough and thick we could not scrape it thin. Jones said this
particular spot was so well protected because in fighting,
cougars were most likely to bite and claw there. For that matter,
the whole skin was tough, tougher than leather; and when it
dried, it pulled all the horseshoe nails out of the pine tree
upon which we had it stretched.
About time for the sun to set, I strolled along the rim wall to
look into the canyon. I was beginning to feel something of its
character and had growing impressions. Dark purple smoke veiled
the clefts deep down between the mesas. I walked along to where
points of cliff ran out like capes and peninsulas, all seamed,
cracked, wrinkled, scarred and yellow with age, with shattered,
toppling ruins of rocks ready at a touch to go thundering down. I
could not resist the temptation to crawl out to the farthest
point, even though I shuddered over the yard-wide ridges; and
when once seated on a bare promontory, two hundred feet from the
regular rim wall, I felt isolated, marooned.
The sun, a liquid red globe, had just touched its under side to
the pink cliffs of Utah, and fired a crimson flood of light over
the wonderful mountains, plateaus, escarpments, mesas, domes and
turrets or the gorge. The rim wall of Powell's Plateau was a thin
streak of fire; the timber above like grass of gold; and the long
slopes below shaded from bright to dark. Point Sublime, bold and
bare, ran out toward the plateau, jealously reaching for the sun.
Bass's Tomb peeped over the Saddle. The Temple of Vishnu lay
bathed in vapory shading clouds, and the Shinumo Altar shone with
rays of glory.
The beginning of the wondrous transformation, the dropping of the
day's curtain, was for me a rare and perfect moment. As the
golden splendor of sunset sought out a peak or mesa or
escarpment, I gave it a name to suit my fancy; and as flushing,
fading, its glory changed, sometimes I rechristened it. Jupiter's
Chariot, brazen wheeled, stood ready to roll into the clouds.
Semiramis's Bed, all gold, shone from a tower of Babylon. Castor
and Pollux clasped hands over a Stygian river. The Spur of Doom,
a mountain shaft as red as hell, and inaccessible,
insurmountable, lured with strange light. Dusk, a bold, black
dome, was shrouded by the shadow of a giant mesa. The Star of
Bethlehem glittered from the brow of Point Sublime. The Wraith,
fleecy, feathered curtain of mist, floated down among the ruins
of castles and palaces, like the ghost of a goddess. Vales of
Twilight, dim, dark ravines, mystic homes of specters, led into
the awful Valley of the Shadow, clothed in purple night.
Suddenly, as the first puff of the night wind fanned my cheek, a
strange, sweet, low moaning and sighing came to my ears. I almost
thought I was in a dream. But the canyon, now blood-red, was
there in overwhelming reality, a profound, solemn, gloomy thing,
but real. The wind blew stronger, and then I was to a sad, sweet
song, which lulled as the wind lulled. I realized at once that
the sound was caused by the wind blowing into the peculiar
formations of the cliffs. It changed, softened, shaded, mellowed,
but it was always sad. It rose from low, tremulous, sweetly
quavering sighs, to a sound like the last woeful, despairing wail
of a woman. It was the song of the sea sirens and the music of
the waves; it had the soft sough of the night wind in the trees,
and the haunting moan of lost spirits.
With reluctance I turned my back to the gorgeously changing
spectacle of the canyon and crawled in to the rim wall. At the
narrow neck of stone I peered over to look down into misty blue
That night Jones told stories of frightened hunters, and assuaged
my mortification by saying "buck-fever" was pardonable after the
danger had passed, and especially so in my case, because of the
great size and fame of Old Tom.
"The worst case of buck-fever I ever saw was on a buffalo hunt I
had with a fellow named Williams," went on Jones. "I was one of
the scouts leading a wagon-train west on the old Santa Fe trail.
This fellow said he was a big hunter, and wanted to kill buffalo,
so I took him out. I saw a herd making over the prairie for a
hollow where a brook ran, and by hard work, got in ahead of them.
I picked out a position just below the edge of the bank, and we
lay quiet, waiting. From the direction of the buffalo, I
calculated we'd be just about right to get a shot at no very long
range. As it was, I suddenly heard thumps on the ground, and
cautiously raising my head, saw a huge buffalo bull just over us,
not fifteen feet up the bank. I whispered to Williams: 'For God's
sake, don't shoot, don't move!' The bull's little fiery eyes
snapped, and he reared. I thought we were goners, for when a bull
comes down on anything with his forefeet, it's done for. But he
slowly settled back, perhaps doubtful. Then, as another buffalo
came to the edge of the bank, luckily a little way from us, the
bull turned broadside, presenting a splendid target. Then I
whispered to Williams: "Now's your chance. Shoot!' I waited for
the shot, but none came. Looking at Williams, I saw he was white
and trembling. Big drops of sweat stood out on his brow his teeth
chattered, and his hands shook. He had forgotten he carried a
"That reminds me," said Frank. "They tell a story over at Kanab
on a Dutchman named Schmitt. He was very fond of huntin', an' I
guess had pretty good success after deer an' small game. One
winter he was out in the Pink Cliffs with a Mormon named
Shoonover, an' they run into a lammin' big grizzly track, fresh
an' wet. They trailed him to a clump of chaparral, an' on goin'
clear round it, found no tracks leadin' out. Shoonover said
Schmitt commenced to sweat. They went back to the place where the
trail led in, an' there they were, great big silver tip tracks,
bigger'n hoss-tracks, so fresh thet water was oozin' out of 'em.
Schmitt said: 'Zake, you go in und ged him. I hef took sick right
Happy as we were over the chase of Old Tom, and our prospects for
Sounder, Jude and Moze had seen a lion in a tree--we sought our
blankets early. I lay watching the bright stars, and listening to
the roar of the wind in the pines. At intervals it lulled to a
whisper, and then swelled to a roar, and then died away. Far off
in the forest a coyote barked once. Time and time again, as I was
gradually sinking into slumber, the sudden roar of the wind
startled me. I imagined it was the crash of rolling, weathered
stone, and I saw again that huge outspread flying lion above me.
I awoke sometime later to find Moze had sought the warmth of my
side, and he lay so near my arm that I reached out and covered
him with an end of the blanket I used to break the wind. It was
very cold and the time must have been very late, for the wind had
died down, and I heard not a tinkle from the hobbled horses. The
absence of the cowbell music gave me a sense of loneliness, for
without it the silence of the great forest was a thing to be
This oppressiveness, however, was broken by a far-distant cry,
unlike any sound I had ever heard. Not sure of myself, I freed my
ears from the blanketed hood and listened. It came again, a wild
cry, that made me think first of a lost child, and then of the
mourning wolf of the north. It must have been a long distance off
in the forest. An interval of some moments passed, then it pealed
out again, nearer this time, and so human that it startled me.
Moze raised his head and growled low in his throat and sniffed
the keen air.
"Jones, Jones," I called, reaching over to touch the old hunter.
He awoke at once, with the clear-headedness of the light sleeper.
"I heard the cry of some beast," I said, "And it was so weird, so
strange. I want to know what it was."
Such a long silence ensued that I began to despair of hearing the
cry again, when, with a suddenness which straightened the hair on
my head, a wailing shriek, exactly like a despairing woman might
give in death agony, split the night silence. It seemed right on
"Cougar! Cougar! Cougar!" exclaimed Jones.
"What's up?" queried Frank, awakened by the dogs.
Their howling roused the rest of the party, and no doubt scared
the cougar, for his womanish screech was not repeated. Then Jones
got up and gatherered his blankets in a roll.
"Where you oozin' for now?" asked Frank, sleepily.
"I think that cougar just came up over the rim on a scouting
hunt, and I'm going to go down to the head of the trail and stay
there till morning. If he returns that way, I'll put him up a
With this, he unchained Sounder and Don, and stalked off under
the trees, looking like an Indian. Once the deep bay of Sounder
rang out; Jones's sharp command followed, and then the familiar
silence encompassed the forest and was broken no more.
When I awoke all was gray, except toward the canyon, where the
little bit of sky I saw through the pines glowed a delicate pink.
I crawled out on the instant, got into my boots and coat, and
kicked the smoldering fire. Jim heard me, and said:
"Shore you're up early."
"I'm going to see the sunrise from the north rim of the Grand
Canon," I said, and knew when I spoke that very few men, out of
all the millions of travelers, had ever seen this, probably the
most surpassingly beautiful pageant in the world. At most, only a
few geologists, scientists, perhaps an artist or two, and horse
wranglers, hunters and prospectors have ever reached the rim on
the north side; and these men, crossing from Bright Angel or
Mystic Spring trails on the south rim, seldom or never get beyond
The frost cracked under my boots like frail ice, and the
bluebells peeped wanly from the white. When I reached the head of
Clarke's trail it was just daylight; and there, under a pine, I
found Jones rolled in his blankets, with Sounder and Moze asleep
beside him. I turned without disturbing him, and went along the
edge of the forest, but back a little distance from the rim wall.
I saw deer off in the woods, and tarrying, watched them throw up
graceful heads, and look and listen. The soft pink glow through
the pines deepened to rose, and suddenly I caught a point of red
fire. Then I hurried to the place I had named Singing Cliffs, and
keeping my eyes fast on the stone beneath me, trawled out to the
very farthest point, drew a long, breath, and looked eastward.
The awfulness of sudden death and the glory of heaven stunned me!
The thing that had been mystery at twilight, lay clear, pure,
open in the rosy hue of dawn. Out of the gates of the morning
poured a light which glorified the palaces and pyramids, purged
and purified the afternoon's inscrutable clefts, swept away the
shadows of the mesas, and bathed that broad, deep world of mighty
mountains, stately spars of rock, sculptured cathedrals and
alabaster terraces in an artist's dream of color. A pearl from
heaven had burst, flinging its heart of fire into this chasm. A
stream of opal flowed out of the sun, to touch each peak, mesa,
dome, parapet, temple and tower, cliff and cleft into the
new-born life of another day.
I sat there for a long time and knew that every second the scene
changed, yet I could not tell how. I knew I sat high over a hole
of broken, splintered, barren mountains; I knew I could see a
hundred miles of the length of it, and eighteen miles of the
width of it, and a mile of the depth of it, and the shafts and
rays of rose light on a million glancing, many-hued surfaces at
once; but that knowledge was no help to me. I repeated a lot of
meaningless superlatives to myself, and I found words inadequate
and superfluous. The spectacle was too elusive and too great. It
was life and death, heaven and hell.
I tried to call up former favorite views of mountain and sea, so
as to compare them with this; but the memory pictures refused to
come, even with my eyes closed. Then I returned to camp, with
unsettled, troubled mind, and was silent, wondering at the
strange feeling burning within me.
Jones talked about our visitor of the night before, and said the
trail near where he had slept showed only one cougar track, and
that led down into the canyon. It had surely been made, he
thought, by the beast we had heard. Jones signified his intention
of chaining several of the hounds for the next few nights at the
head of this trail; so if the cougar came up, they would scent
him and let us know. From which it was evident that to chase a
lion bound into the canyon and one bound out were two different
The day passed lazily, with all of us resting on the warm,
fragrant pine-needle beds, or mending a rent in a coat, or
working on some camp task impossible of commission on exciting
About four o'clock, I took my little rifle and walked off through
the woods in the direction of the carcass where I had seen the
gray wolf. Thinking it best to make a wide detour, so as to face
the wind, I circled till I felt the breeze was favorable to my
enterprise, and then cautiously approached the hollow were the
dead horse lay. Indian fashion, I slipped from tree to tree, a
mode of forest travel not without its fascination and
effectiveness, till I reached the height of a knoll beyond which
I made sure was my objective point. On peeping out from behind
the last pine, I found I had calculated pretty well, for there
was the hollow, the big windfall, with its round, starfish-shaped
roots exposed to the bright sun, and near that, the carcass. Sure
enough, pulling hard at it, was the gray-white wolf I recognized
as my "lofer."
But he presented an exceedingly difficult shot. Backing down the
ridge, I ran a little way to come up behind another tree, from
which I soon shifted to a fallen pine. Over this I peeped, to get
a splendid view of the wolf. He had stopped tugging at the horse,
and stood with his nose in the air. Surely he could not have
scented me, for the wind was strong from him to me; neither could
he have heard my soft footfalls on the pine needles;
nevertheless, he was suspicious. Loth to spoil the picture he
made, I risked a chance, and waited. Besides, though I prided
myself on being able to take a fair aim, I had no great hope that
I could hit him at such a distance. Presently he returned to his
feeding, but not for long. Soon he raised his long, fine-pointed
head, and trotted away a few yards, stopped to sniff again, then
went back to his gruesome work.
At this juncture, I noiselessly projected my rifle barrel over
the log. I had not, however, gotten the sights in line with him,
when he trotted away reluctantly, and ascended the knoll on his
side of the hollow. I lost him, and had just begun sourly to call
myself a mollycoddle hunter, when he reappeared. He halted in an
open glade, on the very crest of the knoll, and stood still as a
statue wolf, a white, inspiriting target, against a dark green
background. I could not stifle a rush of feeling, for I was a
lover of the beautiful first, and a hunter secondly; but I
steadied down as the front sight moved into the notch through
which I saw the black and white of his shoulder.
Spang! How the little Remington sang! I watched closely, ready to
send five more missiles after the gray beast. He jumped
spasmodically, in a half-curve, high in the air, with loosely
hanging head, then dropped in a heap. I yelled like a boy, ran
down the hill, up the other side of the hollow, to find him
stretched out dead, a small hole in his shoulder where the bullet
had entered, a great one where it had come out.
The job I made of skinning him lacked some hundred degrees the
perfection of my shot, but I accomplished it, and returned to
camp in triumph.
"Shore I knowed you'd plunk him," said Jim very much pleased. "I
shot one the other day same way, when he was feedin' off a dead
horse. Now thet's a fine skin. Shore you cut through once or
twice. But he's only half lofer, the other half in plain coyote.
Thet accounts fer his feedin' on dead meat."
My naturalist host and my scientific friend both remarked
somewhat grumpily that I seemed to get the best of all the good
things. I might have retaliated that I certainly had gotten the
worst of all the bad jokes; but, being generously happy over my
prize, merely remarked: "If you want fame or wealth or wolves, go
out and hunt for them."
Five o'clock supper left a good margin of day, in which my
thoughts reverted to the canyon. I watched the purple shadows
stealing out of their caverns and rolling up about the base of
the mesas. Jones came over to where I stood, and I persuaded him
to walk with me along the rim wall. Twilight had stealthily
advanced when we reached the Singing Cliffs, and we did not go
out upon my promontory, but chose a more comfortable one nearer
The night breeze had not sprung up yet, so the music of the
cliffs was hushed.
"You cannot accept the theory of erosion to account for this
chasm?" I asked my companion, referring to a former conversation.
"I can for this part of it. But what stumps me is the mountain
range three thousand feet high, crossing the desert and the
canyon just above where we crossed the river. How did the river
cut through that without the help of a split or earthquake?"
"I'll admit that is a poser to me as well as to you. But I
suppose Wallace could explain it as erosion. He claims this whole
western country was once under water, except the tips of the
Sierra Nevada mountains. There came an uplift of the earth's
crust, and the great inland sea began to run out, presumably by
way of the Colorado. In so doing it cut out the upper canyon,
this gorge eighteen miles wide. Then came a second uplift, giving
the river a much greater impetus toward the sea, which cut out
the second, or marble canyon. Now as to the mountain range
crossing the canyon at right angles. It must have come with the
second uplift. If so, did it dam the river back into another
inland sea, and then wear down into that red perpendicular gorge
we remember so well? Or was there a great break in the fold of
granite, which let the river continue on its way? Or was there,
at that particular point, a softer stone, like this limestone
here, which erodes easily?"
"You must ask somebody wiser than I."
"Well, let's not perplex our minds with its origin. It is, and
that's enough for any mind. Ah! listen! Now you will hear my
From out of the darkening shadows murmurs rose on the softly
rising wind. This strange music had a depressing influence; but
it did not fill the heart with sorrow, only touched it lightly.
And when, with the dying breeze, the song died away, it left the
lonely crags lonelier for its death.
The last rosy gleam faded from the tip of Point Sublime; and as
if that were a signal, in all the clefts and canyons below,
purple, shadowy clouds marshaled their forces and began to sweep
upon the battlements, to swing colossal wings into amphitheaters
where gods might have warred, slowly to enclose the magical
sentinels. Night intervened, and a moving, changing, silent chaos
pulsated under the bright stars.
"How infinite all this is! How impossible to understand!" I
"To me it is very simple," replied my comrade. "The world is
strange. But this canyon--why, we can see it all! I can't make
out why people fuss so over it. I only feel peace. It's only bold
and beautiful, serene and silent."
With the words of this quiet old plainsman, my sentimental
passion shrank to the true appreciation of the scene. Self passed
out to the recurring, soft strains of cliff song. I had been
reveling in a species of indulgence, imagining I was a great
lover of nature, building poetical illusions over storm-beaten
peaks. The truth, told by one who had lived fifty years in the
solitudes, among the rugged mountains, under the dark trees, and
by the sides of the lonely streams, was the simple interpretation
of a spirit in harmony with the bold, the beautiful, the serene,
He meant the Grand Canyon was only a mood of nature, a bold
promise, a beautiful record. He meant that mountains had sifted
away in its dust, yet the canyon was young. Man was nothing, so
let him be humble. This cataclysm of the earth, this playground
of a river was not inscrutable; it was only inevitable--as
inevitable as nature herself. Millions of years in the bygone
ages it had lain serene under a half moon; it would bask silent
under a rayless sun, in the onward edge of time.
It taught simplicity, serenity, peace. The eye that saw only the
strife, the war, the decay, the ruin, or only the glory and the
tragedy, saw not all the truth. It spoke simply, though its words
were grand: "My spirit is the Spirit of Time, of Eternity, of
God. Man is little, vain, vaunting. Listen. To-morrow he shall be
gone. Peace! Peace!"
CHAPTER 14. ALL HEROES BUT ONE
As we rode up the slope of Buckskin, the sunrise glinted red-gold
through the aisles of frosted pines, giving us a hunter's glad
With all due respect to, and appreciation of, the breaks of the
Siwash, we unanimously decided that if cougars inhabited any
other section of canyon country, we preferred it, and were going
to find it. We had often speculated on the appearance of the rim
wall directly across the neck of the canyon upon which we were
located. It showed a long stretch of breaks, fissures, caves,
yellow crags, crumbled ruins and clefts green with pinyon pine.
As a crow flies, it was only a mile or two straight across from
camp, but to reach it, we had to ascend the mountain and head the
canyon which deeply indented the slope.
A thousand feet or more above the level bench, the character of
the forest changed; the pines grew thicker, and interspersed
among them were silver spruces and balsams. Here in the clumps of
small trees and underbrush, we began to jump deer, and in a few
moments a greater number than I had ever seen in all my hunting
experiences loped within range of my eye. I could not look out
into the forest where an aisle or lane or glade stretched to any
distance, without seeing a big gray deer cross it. Jones said the
herds had recently come up from the breaks, where they had
wintered. These deer were twice the size of the Eastern species,
and as fat as well-fed cattle. They were almost as tame, too. A
big herd ran out of one glade, leaving behind several curious
does, which watched us intently for a moment, then bounded off
with the stiff, springy bounce that so amused me.
Sounder crossed fresh trails one after another; Jude, Tige and
Ranger followed him, but hesitated often, barked and whined; Don
started off once, to come sneaking back at Jones's stern call.
But surly old Moze either would not or could not obey, and away
he dashed. Bang! Jones sent a charge of fine shot after him. He
yelped, doubled up as if stung, and returned as quickly as he had
"Hyar, you white and black coon dog," said Jones, "get in behind,
and stay there."
We turned to the right after a while and got among shallow
ravines. Gigantic pines grew on the ridges and in the hollows,
and everywhere bluebells shone blue from the white frost. Why the
frost did not kill these beautiful flowers was a mystery to me.
The horses could not step without crushing them.
Before long, the ravines became so deep that we had to zigzag up
and down their sides, and to force our horses through the aspen
thickets in the hollows. Once from a ridge I saw a troop of deer,
and stopped to watch them. Twenty-seven I counted outright, but
there must have been three times that number. I saw the herd
break across a glade, and watched them until they were lost in
the forest. My companions having disappeared, I pushed on, and
while working out of a wide, deep hollow, I noticed the sunny
patches fade from the bright slopes, and the golden streaks
vanish among the pines. The sky had become overcast, and the
forest was darkening. The "Waa-hoo," I cried out returned in echo
only. The wind blew hard in my face, and the pines began to bend
and roar. An immense black cloud enveloped Buckskin.
Satan had carried me no farther than the next ridge, when the
forest frowned dark as twilight, and on the wind whirled flakes
of snow. Over the next hollow, a white pall roared through the
trees toward me. Hardly had I time to get the direction of the
trail, and its relation to the trees nearby, when the storm
enfolded me. Of his own accord Satan stopped in the lee of a
bushy spruce. The roar in the pines equaled that of the cave
under Niagara, and the bewildering, whirling mass of snow was as
difficult to see through as the tumbling, seething waterfall.
I was confronted by the possibility of passing the night there,
and calming my fears as best I could, hastily felt for my matches
and knife. The prospect of being lost the next day in a white
forest was also appalling, but I soon reassured myself that the
storm was only a snow squall, and would not last long. Then I
gave myself up to the pleasure and beauty of it. I could only
faintly discern the dim trees; the limbs of the spruce, which
partially protected me, sagged down to my head with their burden;
I had but to reach out my hand for a snowball. Both the wind and
snow seemed warm. The great flakes were like swan feathers on a
summer breeze. There was something joyous in the whirl of snow
and roar of wind. While I bent over to shake my holster, the
storm passed as suddenly as it had come. When I looked up, there
were the pines, like pillars of Parian marble, and a white
shadow, a vanishing cloud fled, with receding roar, on the wings
of the wind. Fast on this retreat burst the warm, bright sun.
I faced my course, and was delighted to see, through an opening
where the ravine cut out of the forest, the red-tipped peaks of
the canyon, and the vaulted dome I had named St. Marks. As I
started, a new and unexpected after-feature of the storm began to
manifest itself. The sun being warm, even to melt the snow, and
under the trees a heavy rain fell, and in the glades and hollows
a fine mist blew. Exquisite rainbows hung from white-tipped
branches and curved over the hollows. Glistening patches of snow
fell from the pines, and broke the showers.
In a quarter of an hour, I rode out of the forest to the rim wall
on dry ground. Against the green pinyons Frank's white horse
stood out conspicuously, and near him browsed the mounts of Jim
and Wallace. The boys were not in evidence. Concluding they had
gone down over the rim, I dismounted and kicked off my chaps, and
taking my rifle and camera, hurried to look the place over.
To my surprise and interest, I found a long section of rim wall
in ruins. It lay in a great curve between the two giant capes;
and many short, sharp, projecting promontories, like the teeth of
a saw, overhung the canyon. The slopes between these points of
cliff were covered with a deep growth of pinyon, and in these
places descent would be easy. Everywhere in the corrugated wall
were rents and rifts; cliffs stood detached like islands near a
shore; yellow crags rose out of green clefts; jumble of rocks,
and slides of rim wall, broken into blocks, massed under the
The singular raggedness and wildness of the scene took hold of
me, and was not dispelled until the baying of Sounder and Don
roused action in me. Apparently the hounds were widely separated.
Then I heard Jim's yell. But it ceased when the wind lulled, and
I heard it no more. Running back from the point, I began to go
down. The way was steep, almost perpendicular; but because of the
great stones and the absence of slides, was easy. I took long
strides and jumps, and slid over rocks, and swung on pinyon
branches, and covered distance like a rolling stone. At the foot
of the rim wall, or at a line where it would have reached had it
extended regularly, the slope became less pronounced. I could
stand up without holding on to a support. The largest pinyons I
had seen made a forest that almost stood on end. These trees grew
up, down, and out, and twisted in curves, and many were two feet
in thickness. During my descent, I halted at intervals to listen,
and always heard one of the hounds, sometimes several. But as I
descended for a long time, and did not get anywhere or approach
the dogs, I began to grow impatient.
A large pinyon, with a dead top, suggested a good outlook, so I
climbed it, and saw I could sweep a large section of the slope.
It was a strange thing to look down hill, over the tips of green
trees. Below, perhaps four hundred yards, was a slide open for a
long way; all the rest was green incline, with many dead branches
sticking up like spars, and an occasional crag. From this perch I
heard the hounds; then followed a yell I thought was Jim's, and
after it the bellowing of Wallace's rifle. Then all was silent.
The shots had effectually checked the yelping of the hounds. I
let out a yell. Another cougar that Jones would not lasso! All at
once I heard a familiar sliding of small rocks below me, and I
watched the open slope with greedy eyes.
Not a bit surprised was I to see a cougar break out of the green,
and go tearing down the slide. In less than six seconds, I had
sent six steel-jacketed bullets after him. Puffs of dust rose
closer and closer to him as each bullet went nearer the mark and
the last showered him with gravel and turned him straight down
the canyon slope.
I slid down the dead pinyon and jumped nearly twenty feet to the
soft sand below, and after putting a loaded clip in my rifle,
began kangaroo leaps down the slope. When I reached the point
where the cougar had entered the slide, I called the hounds, but
they did not come nor answer me. Notwithstanding my excitement, I
appreciated the distance to the bottom of the slope before I
reached it. In my haste, I ran upon the verge of a precipice
twice as deep as the first rim wall, but one glance down sent me
With all the breath I had left I yelled: "Waa-hoo! Waa-hoo!" From
the echoes flung at me, I imagined at first that my friends were
right on my ears. But no real answer came. The cougar had
probably passed along this second rim wall to a break, and had
gone down. His trail could easily be taken by any of the hounds.
Vexed and anxious, I signaled again and again. Once, long after
the echo had gone to sleep in some hollow canyon, I caught a
faint "Wa-a-ho-o-o!" But it might have come from the clouds. I
did not hear a hound barking above me on the slope; but suddenly,
to my amazement, Sounder's deep bay rose from the abyss below. I
ran along the rim, called till I was hoarse, leaned over so far
that the blood rushed to my head, and then sat down. I concluded
this canyon hunting could bear some sustained attention and
thought, as well as frenzied action.
Examination of my position showed how impossible it was to arrive
at any clear idea of the depth or size, or condition of the
canyon slopes from the main rim wall above. The second wall--a
stupendous, yellow-faced cliff two thousand feet high--curved to
my left round to a point in front of me. The intervening canyon
might have been a half mile wide, and it might have been ten
miles. I had become disgusted with judging distance. The slope
above this second wall facing me ran up far above my head; it
fairly towered, and this routed all my former judgments, because
I remembered distinctly that from the rim this yellow and green
mountain had appeared an insignificant little ridge. But it was
when I turned to gaze up behind me that I fully grasped the
immensity of the place. This wall and slope were the first two
steps down the long stairway of the Grand Canyon, and they
towered over me, straight up a half-mile in dizzy height. To
think of climbing it took my breath away.
Then again Sounder's bay floated distinctly to me, but it seemed
to come from a different point. I turned my ear to the wind, and
in the succeeding moments I was more and more baffled. One bay
sounded from below and next from far to the right; another from
the left. I could not distinguish voice from echo. The acoustic
properties of the amphitheater beneath me were too wonderful for
As the bay grew sharper, and correspondingly more significant, I
became distracted, and focused a strained vision on the canyon
deeps. I looked along the slope to the notch where the wall
curved and followed the base line of the yellow cliff. Quite
suddenly I saw a very small black object moving with snail-like
slowness. Although it seemed impossible for Sounder to be so
small, I knew it was he. Having something now to judge distance
from, I conceived it to be a mile, without the drop. If I could
hear Sounder, he could hear me, so I yelled encouragement. The
echoes clapped back at me like so many slaps in the face. I
watched the hound until he disappeared among broken heaps of
stone, and long after that his bay floated to me.
Having rested, I essayed the discovery of some of my lost
companions or the hounds, and began to climb. Before I started,
however, I was wise enough to study the rim wall above, to
familiarize myself with the break so I would have a landmark.
Like horns and spurs of gold the pinnacles loomed up. Massed
closely together, they were not unlike an astounding pipe-organ.
I had a feeling of my littleness, that I was lost, and should
devote every moment and effort to the saving of my life. It did
not seem possible I could be hunting. Though I climbed
diagonally, and rested often, my heart pumped so hard I could
hear it. A yellow crag, with a round head like an old man's cane,
appealed to me as near the place where I last heard from Jim, and
toward it I labored. Every time I glanced up, the distance seemed
the same. A climb which I decided would not take more than
fifteen minutes, required an hour.
While resting at the foot of the crag, I heard more baying of
hounds, but for my life I could not tell whether the sound came
from up or down, and I commenced to feel that I did not much
care. Having signaled till I was hoarse, and receiving none but
mock answers, I decided that if my companions had not toppled
over a cliff, they were wisely withholding their breath.
Another stiff pull up the slope brought me under the rim wall,
and there I groaned, because the wall was smooth and shiny,
without a break. I plodded slowly along the base, with my rifle
ready. Cougar tracks were so numerous I got tired of looking at
them, but I did not forget that I might meet a tawny fellow or
two among those narrow passes of shattered rock, and under the
thick, dark pinyons. Going on in this way, I ran point-blank into
a pile of bleached bones before a cave. I had stumbled on the
lair of a lion and from the looks of it one like that of Old Tom.
I flinched twice before I threw a stone into the dark-mouthed
cave. What impressed me as soon as I found I was in no danger of
being pawed and clawed round the gloomy spot, was the fact of the
bones being there. How did they come on a slope where a man could
hardly walk? Only one answer seemed feasible. The lion had made
his kill one thousand feet above, had pulled his quarry to the
rim and pushed it over. In view of the theory that he might have
had to drag his victim from the forest, and that very seldom two
lions worked together, the fact of the location of the bones as
startling. Skulls of wild horses and deer, antlers and countless
bones, all crushed into shapelessness, furnished indubitable
proof that the carcasses had fallen from a great height. Most
remarkable of all was the skeleton of a cougar lying across that
of a horse. I believed--I could not help but believe that the
cougar had fallen with his last victim.
Not many rods beyond the lion den, the rim wall split into
towers, crags and pinnacles. I thought I had found my pipe organ,
and began to climb toward a narrow opening in the rim. But I lost
it. The extraordinarily cut-up condition of the wall made holding
to one direction impossible. Soon I realized I was lost in a
labyrinth. I tried to find my way down again, but the best I
could do was to reach the verge of a cliff, from which I could
see the canyon. Then I knew where I was, yet I did not know, so I
plodded wearily back. Many a blind cleft did I ascend in the maze
of crags. I could hardly crawl along, still I kept at it, for the
place was conducive to dire thoughts. A tower of Babel menaced me
with tons of loose shale. A tower that leaned more frightfully
than the Tower of Pisa threatened to build my tomb. Many a
lighthouse-shaped crag sent down little scattering rocks in
After toiling in and out of passageways under the shadows of
these strangely formed cliffs, and coming again and again to the
same point, a blind pocket, I grew desperate. I named the
baffling place Deception Pass, and then ran down a slide. I knew
if I could keep my feet I could beat the avalanche. More by good
luck than management I outran the roaring stones and landed
safely. Then rounding the cliff below, I found myself on a narrow
ledge, with a wall to my left, and to the right the tips of
pinyon trees level with my feet.
Innocently and wearily I passed round a pillar-like corner of
wall, to come face to face with an old lioness and cubs. I heard
the mother snarl, and at the same time her ears went back flat,
and she crouched. The same fire of yellow eyes, the same grim
snarling expression so familiar in my mind since Old Tom had
leaped at me, faced me here.
My recent vow of extermination was entirely forgotten and one
frantic spring carried me over the ledge.
Crash! I felt the brushing and scratching of branches, and saw a
green blur. I went down straddling limbs and hit the ground with
a thump. Fortunately, I landed mostly on my feet, in sand, and
suffered no serious bruise. But I was stunned, and my right arm
was numb for a moment. When I gathered myself together, instead
of being grateful the ledge had not been on the face of Point
Sublime--from which I would most assuredly have leaped--I was the
angriest man ever let loose in the Grand Canyon.
Of course the cougars were far on their way by that time, and
were telling neighbors about the brave hunter's leap for life; so
I devoted myself to further efforts to find an outlet. The niche
I had jumped into opened below, as did most of the breaks, and I
worked out of it to the base of the rim wall, and tramped a long,
long mile before I reached my own trail leading down. Resting
every five steps, I climbed and climbed. My rifle grew to weigh a
ton; my feet were lead; the camera strapped to my shoulder was
the world. Soon climbing meant trapeze work--long reach of arm,
and pull of weight, high step of foot, and spring of body. Where
I had slid down with ease, I had to strain and raise myself by
sheer muscle. I wore my left glove to tatters and threw it away
to put the right one on my left hand. I thought many times I
could not make another move; I thought my lungs would burst, but
I kept on. When at last I surmounted the rim, I saw Jones, and
flopped down beside him, and lay panting, dripping, boiling, with
scorched feet, aching limbs and numb chest.
"I've been here two hours," he said, "and I knew things were
happening below; but to climb up that slide would kill me. I am
not young any more, and a steep climb like this takes a young
heart. As it was I had enough work. Look!" He called my attention
to his trousers. They had been cut to shreds, and the right
trouser leg was missing from the knee down. His shin was bloody.
"Moze took a lion along the rim, and I went after him with all my
horse could do. I yelled for the boys, but they didn't come.
Right here it is easy to go down, but below, where Moze started
this lion, it was impossible to get over the rim. The lion lit
straight out of the pinyons. I lost ground because of the thick
brush and numerous trees. Then Moze doesn't bark often enough. He
treed the lion twice. I could tell by the way he opened up and
bayed. The rascal coon-dog climbed the trees and chased the lion
out. That's what Moze did! I got to an open space and saw him,
and was coming up fine when he went down over a hollow which ran
into the canyon. My horse tripped and fell, turning clear over
with me before he threw me into the brush. I tore my clothes, and
got this bruise, but wasn't much hurt. My horse is pretty lame."
I began a recital of my experience, modestly omitting the
incident where I bravely faced an old lioness. Upon consulting my
watch, I found I had been almost four hours climbing out. At that
moment, Frank poked a red face over the rim. He was in shirt
sleeves, sweating freely, and wore a frown I had never seen
before. He puffed like a porpoise, and at first could hardly
"Where were--you--all?" he panted. "Say! but mebbe this hasn't
been a chase! Jim and Wallace an' me went tumblin' down after the
dogs, each one lookin' out for his perticilar dog, an' darn me if
I don't believe his lion, too. Don took one oozin' down the
canyon, with me hot-footin' it after him. An' somewhere he treed
thet lion, right below me, in a box canyon, sort of an offshoot
of the second rim, an' I couldn't locate him. I blamed near
killed myself more'n once. Look at my knuckles! Barked em slidin'
about a mile down a smooth wall. I thought once the lion had
jumped Don, but soon I heard him barkin' again. All thet time I
heard Sounder, an' once I heard the pup. Jim yelled, an' somebody
was shootin'. But I couldn't find nobody, or make nobody hear me.
Thet canyon is a mighty deceivin' place. You'd never think so
till you go down. I wouldn't climb up it again for all the lions
in Buckskin. Hello, there comes Jim oozin' up."
Jim appeared just over the rim, and when he got up to us, dusty,
torn and fagged out, with Don, Tige and Ranger showing signs of
collapse, we all blurted out questions. But Jim took his time.
"Shore thet canyon is one hell of a place," he began finally.
"Where was everybody? Tige and the pup went down with me an'
treed a cougar. Yes, they did, an' I set under a pinyon holdin'
the pup, while Tige kept the cougar treed. I yelled an' yelled.
After about an hour or two, Wallace came poundin' down like a
giant. It was a sure thing we'd get the cougar; an' Wallace was
takin' his picture when the blamed cat jumped. It was
embarrassin', because he wasn't polite about how he jumped. We
scattered some, an' when Wallace got his gun, the cougar was
humpin' down the slope, an' he was goin' so fast an' the pinyons
was so thick thet Wallace couldn't get a fair shot, an' missed.
Tige an' the pup was so scared by the shots they wouldn't take
the trail again. I heard some one shoot about a million times,
an' shore thought the cougar was done for. Wallace went plungin'
down the slope an' I followed. I couldn't keep up with him--he
shore takes long steps--an' I lost him. I'm reckonin' he went
over the second wall. Then I made tracks for the top. Boys, the
way you can see an' hear things down in thet canyon, an' the way
you can't hear an' see things is pretty funny."
"If Wallace went over the second rim wall, will he get back
to-day?" we all asked.
"Shore, there's no tellin'."
We waited, lounged, and slept for three hours, and were beginning
to worry about our comrade when he hove in sight eastward, along
the rim. He walked like a man whose next step would be his last.
When he reached us, he fell flat, and lay breathing heavily for a
"Somebody once mentioned Israel Putnam's ascent of a hill," he
said slowly. "With all respect to history and a patriot, I wish
to say Putnam never saw a hill!"
"Ooze for camp," called out Frank.
Five o'clock found us round a bright fire, all casting ravenous
eyes at a smoking supper. The smell of the Persian meat would
have made a wolf of a vegetarian. I devoured four chops, and
could not have been counted in the running. Jim opened a can of
maple syrup which he had been saving for a grand occasion, and
Frank went him one better with two cans of peaches. How glorious
to be hungry--to feel the craving for food, and to be grateful
for it, to realize that the best of life lies in the daily needs
of existence, and to battle for them!
Nothing could be stronger than the simple enumeration and
statement of the facts of Wallace's experience after he left Jim.
He chased the cougar, and kept it in sight, until it went over
the second rim wall. Here he dropped over a precipice twenty feet
high, to alight on a fan-shaped slide which spread toward the
bottom. It began to slip and move by jerks, and then started off
steadily, with an increasing roar. He rode an avalanche for one
thousand feet. The jar loosened bowlders from the walls. When the
slide stopped, Wallace extricated his feet and began to dodge the
bowlders. He had only time to jump over the large ones or dart to
one side out of their way. He dared not run. He had to watch them
coming. One huge stone hurtled over his head and smashed a pinyon
When these had ceased rolling, and he had passed down to the red
shale, he heard Sounder baying near, and knew a cougar had been
treed or cornered. Hurdling the stones and dead pinyons, Wallace
ran a mile down the slope, only to find he had been deceived in
the direction. He sheered off to the left. Sounder's illusive bay
came up from a deep cleft. Wallace plunged into a pinyon, climbed
to the ground, skidded down a solid slide, to come upon an
impassable the obstacle in the form of a solid wall of red
granite. Sounder appeared and came to him, evidently having given
up the chase.
Wallace consumed four hours in making the ascent. In the notch of
the curve of the second rim wall, he climbed the slippery steps
of a waterfall. At one point, if he had not been six feet five
inches tall he would have been compelled to attempt retracing his
trail--an impossible task. But his height enabled him to reach a
root, by which he pulled himself up. Sounder he lassoed a la
Jones, and hauled up. At another spot, which Sounder climbed, he
lassoed a pinyon above, and walked up with his feet slipping from
under him at every step. The knees of his corduroy trousers were
holes, as were the elbows of his coat. The sole of his left boot,
which he used most in climbing--was gone, and so was his hat.
CHAPTER 15. JONES ON COUGARS
The mountain lion, or cougar, of our Rocky Mountain region, is
nothing more nor less than the panther. He is a little different
in shape, color and size, which vary according to his
environment. The panther of the Rockies is usually light, taking
the grayish hue of the rocks. He is stockier and heavier of
build, and stronger of limb than the Eastern species, which
difference comes from climbing mountains and springing down the
cliffs after his prey.
In regions accessible to man, or where man is encountered even
rarely, the cougar is exceedingly shy, seldom or never venturing
from cover during the day. He spends the hours of daylight high
on the most rugged cliffs, sleeping and basking in the sunshine,
and watching with wonderfully keen sight the valleys below. His
hearing equals his sight, and if danger threatens, he always
hears it in time to skulk away unseen. At night he steals down
the mountain side toward deer or elk he has located during the
day. Keeping to the lowest ravines and thickets, he creeps upon
his prey. His cunning and ferocity are keener and more savage in
proportion to the length of time he has been without food. As he
grows hungrier and thinner, his skill and fierce strategy
correspondingly increase. A well-fed cougar will creep upon and
secure only about one in seven of the deer, elk, antelope or
mountain sheep that he stalks. But a starving cougar is another
animal. He creeps like a snake, is as sure on the scent as a
vulture, makes no more noise than a shadow, and he hides behind a
stone or bush that would scarcely conceal a rabbit. Then he
springs with terrific force, and intensity of purpose, and seldom
fails to reach his victim, and once the claws of a starved lion
touch flesh, they never let go.
A cougar seldom pursues his quarry after he has leaped and
missed, either from disgust or failure, or knowledge that a
second attempt would be futile. The animal making the easiest
prey for the cougar is the elk. About every other elk attacked
falls a victim. Deer are more fortunate, the ratio being one dead
to five leaped at. The antelope, living on the lowlands or upland
meadows, escapes nine times out of ten; and the mountain sheep,
or bighorn, seldom falls to the onslaught of his enemy.
Once the lion gets a hold with the great forepaw, every movement
of the struggling prey sinks the sharp, hooked claws deeper. Then
as quickly as is possible, the lion fastens his teeth in the
throat of his prey and grips till it is dead. In this way elk
have carried lions for many rods. The lion seldom tears the skin
of the neck, and never, as is generally supposed, sucks the blood
of its victim; but he cuts into the side, just behind the
foreshoulder, and eats the liver first. He rolls the skin back as
neatly and tightly as a person could do it. When he has gorged
himself, he drags the carcass into a ravine or dense thicket, and
rakes leaves, sticks or dirt over it to hide it from other
animals. Usually he returns to his cache on the second night, and
after that the frequency of his visits depends on the supply of
fresh prey. In remote regions, unfrequented by man, the lion will
guard his cache from coyote and buzzards.
In sex there are about five female lions to one male. This is
caused by the jealous and vicious disposition of the male. It is
a fact that the old Toms kill every young lion they can catch.
Both male and female of the litter suffer alike until after
weaning time, and then only the males. In this matter wise animal
logic is displayed by the Toms. The domestic cat, to some extent,
possesses the same trait. If the litter is destroyed, the mating
time is sure to come about regardless of the season. Thus this
savage trait of the lions prevents overproduction, and breeds a
hardy and intrepid race. If by chance or that cardinal feature of
animal life--the survival of the fittest--a young male lion
escapes to the weaning time, even after that he is persecuted.
Young male lions have been killed and found to have had their
flesh beaten until it was a mass of bruises and undoubtedly it
had been the work of an old Tom. Moreover, old males and females
have been killed, and found to be in the same bruised condition.
A feature, and a conclusive one, is the fact that invariably the
female is suckling her young at this period, and sustains the
bruises in desperately defending her litter.
It is astonishing how cunning, wise and faithful an old lioness
is. She seldom leaves her kittens. From the time they are six
weeks old she takes them out to train them for the battles of
life, and the struggle continues from birth to death. A lion
hardly ever dies naturally. As soon as night descends, the
lioness stealthily stalks forth, and because of her little ones,
takes very short steps. The cubs follow, stepping in their
mother's tracks. When she crouches for game, each little lion
crouches also, and each one remains perfectly still until she
springs, or signals them to come. If she secures the prey, they
all gorge themselves. After the feast the mother takes her back
trail, stepping in the tracks she made coming down the mountain.
And the cubs are very careful to follow suit, and not to leave
marks of their trail in the soft snow. No doubt this habit is
practiced to keep their deadly enemies in ignorance of their
existence. The old Toms and white hunters are their only foes.
Indians never kill a lion. This trick of the lions has fooled
many a hunter, concerning not only the direction, but
particularly the number.
The only successful way to hunt lions is with trained dogs. A
good hound can trail them for several hours after the tracks have
been made, and on a cloudy or wet day can hold the scent much
longer. In snow the hound can trail for three or four days after
the track has been made.
When Jones was game warden of the Yellowstone National Park, he
had unexampled opportunities to hunt cougars and learn their
habits. All the cougars in that region of the Rockies made a
rendezvous of the game preserve. Jones soon procured a pack of
hounds, but as they had been trained to run deer, foxes and
coyotes he had great trouble. They would break on the trail of
these animals, and also on elk and antelope just when this was
farthest from his wish. He soon realized that to train the hounds
was a sore task. When they refused to come back at his call, he
stung them with fine shot, and in this manner taught obedience.
But obedience was not enough; the hounds must know how to follow
and tree a lion. With this in mind, Jones decided to catch a lion
alive and give his dogs practical lessons.
A few days after reaching this decision, he discovered the tracks
of two lions in the neighborhood of Mt. Everett. The hounds were
put on the trail and followed it into an abandoned coal shaft.
Jones recognized this as his opportunity, and taking his lasso
and an extra rope, he crawled into the hole. Not fifteen feet
from the opening sat one of the cougars, snarling and spitting.
Jones promptly lassoed it, passed his end of the lasso round a
side prop of the shaft, and out to the soldiers who had followed
him. Instructing them not to pull till he called, he cautiously
began to crawl by the cougar, with the intention of getting
farther back and roping its hind leg, so as to prevent disaster
when the soldiers pulled it out. He accomplished this, not
without some uneasiness in regard to the second lion, and giving
the word to his companions, soon had his captive hauled from the
shaft and tied so tightly it could not move.
Jones took the cougar and his hounds to an open place in the
park, where there were trees, and prepared for a chase. Loosing
the lion, he held his hounds back a moment, then let them go.
Within one hundred yards the cougar climbed a tree, and the dogs
saw the performance. Taking a forked stick, Jones mounted up to
the cougar, caught it under the jaw with the stick, and pushed it
out. There was a fight, a scramble, and the cougar dashed off to
run up another tree. In this manner, he soon trained his hounds
to the pink of perfection.
Jones discovered, while in the park, that the cougar is king of
all the beasts of North America. Even a grizzly dashed away in
great haste when a cougar made his appearance. At the road camp,
near Mt. Washburn, during the fall of 1904, the bears, grizzlies
and others, were always hanging round the cook tent. There were
cougars also, and almost every evening, about dusk, a big fellow
would come parading past the tent. The bears would grunt
furiously and scamper in every direction. It was easy to tell
when a cougar was in the neighborhood, by the peculiar grunts and
snorts of the bears, and the sharp, distinct, alarmed yelps of
coyotes. A lion would just as lief kill a coyote as any other
animal and he would devour it, too. As to the fighting of cougars
and grizzlies, that was a mooted question, with the credit on the
side of the former.
The story of the doings of cougars, as told in the snow, was
intensely fascinating and tragic! How they stalked deer and elk,
crept to within springing distance, then crouched flat to leap,
was as easy to read as if it had been told in print. The leaps
and bounds were beyond belief. The longest leap on a level
measured eighteen and one-half feet. Jones trailed a half-grown
cougar, which in turn was trailing a big elk. He found where the
cougar had struck his game, had clung for many rods, to be dashed
off by the low limb of a spruce tree. The imprint of the body of
the cougar was a foot deep in the snow; blood and tufts of hair
covered the place. But there was no sign of the cougar renewing
In rare cases cougars would refuse to run, or take to trees. One
day Jones followed the hounds, eight in number, to come on a huge
Tom holding the whole pack at bay. He walked to and fro, lashing
his tail from side to side, and when Jones dashed up, he coolly
climbed a tree. Jones shot the cougar, which, in falling, struck
one of the hounds, crippling him. This hound would never approach
a tree after this incident, believing probably that the cougar
had sprung upon him.
Usually the hounds chased their quarry into a tree long before
Jones rode up. It was always desirable to kill the animal with
the first shot. If the cougar was wounded, and fell or jumped
among the dogs, there was sure to be a terrible fight, and the
best dogs always received serious injuries, if they were not
killed outright. The lion would seize a hound, pull him close,
and bite him in the brain.
Jones asserted that a cougar would usually run from a hunter, but
that this feature was not to be relied upon. And a wounded cougar
was as dangerous as a tiger. In his hunts Jones carried a
shotgun, and shells loaded with ball for the cougar, and others
loaded with fine shot for the hounds. One day, about ten miles
from the camp, the hounds took a trail and ran rapidly, as there
were only a few inches of snow. Jones found a large lion had
taken refuge in a tree that had fallen against another, and
aiming at the shoulder of the beast, he fired both barrels. The
cougar made no sign he had been hit. Jones reloaded and fired at
the head. The old fellow growled fiercely, turned in the tree and
walked down head first, something he would not have been able to
do had the tree been upright. The hounds were ready for him, but
wisely attacked in the rear. Realizing he had been shooting fine
shot at the animal, Jones began a hurried search for a shell
loaded with ball. The lion made for him, compelling him to dodge
behind trees. Even though the hounds kept nipping the cougar, the
persistent fellow still pursued the hunter. At last Jones found
the right shell, just as the cougar reached for him. Major, the
leader of the hounds, darted bravely in, and grasped the leg of
the beast just in the nick of time. This enabled Jones to take
aim and fire at close range, which ended the fight. Upon
examination, it was discovered the cougar had been half-blinded
by the fine shot, which accounted for the ineffectual attempts he
had made to catch Jones.
The mountain lion rarely attacks a human being for the purpose of
eating. When hungry he will often follow the tracks of people,
and under favorable circumstances may ambush them. In the park
where game is plentiful, no one has ever known a cougar to follow
the trail of a person; but outside the park lions have been known
to follow hunters, and particularly stalk little children. The
Davis family, living a few miles north of the park, have had
children pursued to the very doors of their cabin. And other
families relate similar experiences. Jones heard of only one
fatality, but he believes that if the children were left alone in
the woods, the cougars would creep closer and closer, and when
assured there was no danger, would spring to kill.
Jones never heard the cry of a cougar in the National Park, which
strange circumstance, considering the great number of the animals
there, he believed to be on account of the abundance of game. But
he had heard it when a boy in Illinois, and when a man all over
the West, and the cry was always the same, weird and wild, like
the scream of a terrified woman. He did not understand the
significance of the cry, unless it meant hunger, or the wailing
mourn of a lioness for her murdered cubs.
The destructiveness of this savage species was murderous. Jones
came upon one old Tom's den, where there was a pile of nineteen
elk, mostly yearlings. Only five or six had been eaten. Jones
hunted this old fellow for months, and found that the lion killed
on the average three animals a week. The hounds got him up at
length, and chased him to the Yellowstone River, which he swam at
a point impassable for man or horse. One of the dogs, a giant
bloodhound named Jack, swam the swift channel, kept on after the
lion, but never returned. All cougars have their peculiar traits
and habits, the same as other creatures, and all old Toms have
strongly marked characteristics, but this one was the most
destructive cougar Jones ever knew.
During Jones's short sojourn as warden in the park, he captured
numerous cougars alive, and killed seventy-two.
CHAPTER 16. KITTY
It seemed my eyelids had scarcely touched when Jones's
exasperating, yet stimulating, yell aroused me. Day was breaking.
The moon and stars shone with wan luster. A white, snowy frost
silvered the forest. Old Moze had curled close beside me, and now
he gazed at me reproachfully and shivered. Lawson came hustling
in with the horses. Jim busied himself around the campfire. My
fingers nearly froze while I saddled my horse.
At five o'clock we were trotting up the slope of Buckskin, bound
for the section of ruined rim wall where we had encountered the
convention of cougars. Hoping to save time, we took a short cut,
and were soon crossing deep ravines.
The sunrise coloring the purple curtain of cloud over the canyon
was too much for me, and I lagged on a high ridge to watch it,
thus falling behind my more practical companions. A far-off
"Waa-hoo!" brought me to a realization of the day's stern duty
and I hurried Satan forward on the trail.
I came suddenly upon our leader, leading his horse through the
scrub pinyon on the edge of the canyon, and I knew at once
something had happened, for he was closely scrutinizing the
"I declare this beats me all hollow!" began Jones. "We might be
hunting rabbits instead of the wildest animals on the continent.
We jumped a bunch of lions in this clump of pinyon. There must
have been at least four. I thought first we'd run upon an old
lioness with cubs, but all the trails were made by full-grown
lions. Moze took one north along the rim, same as the other day,
but the lion got away quick. Frank saw one lion. Wallace is
following Sounder down into the first hollow. Jim has gone over
the rim wall after Don. There you are! Four lions playing tag in
broad daylight on top of this wall! I'm inclined to believe
Clarke didn't exaggerate. But confound the luck! the hounds have
split again. They're doing their best, of course, and it's up to
us to stay with them. I'm afraid we'll lose some of them. Hello!
I hear a signal. That's from Wallace. Waa-hoo! Waa-hoo! There he
is, coming out of the hollow."
The tall Californian reached us presently with Sounder beside
him. He reported that the hound had chased a lion into an
impassable break. We then joined Frank on a jutting crag of the
"Waa-hoo!" yelled Jones. There was no answer except the echo, and
it rolled up out of the chasm with strange, hollow mockery.
"Don took a cougar down this slide," said Frank. "I saw the
brute, an' Don was makin' him hump. A--ha! There! Listen to
From the green and yellow depths soared the faint yelp of a
"That's Don! that's Don!" cried Jones. "He's hot on something.
Where's Sounder? Hyar, Sounder! By George! there he goes down the
slide. Hear him! He's opened up! Hi! Hi! Hi!"
The deep, full mellow bay of the hound came ringing on the clear
"Wallace, you go down. Frank and I will climb out on that pointed
crag. Grey, you stay here. Then we'll have the slide between us.
Listen and watch!"
From my promontory I watched Wallace go down with his gigantic
strides, sending the rocks rolling and cracking; and then I saw
Jones and Frank crawl out to the end of a crumbling ruin of
yellow wall which threatened to go splintering and thundering
down into the abyss.
I thought, as I listened to the penetrating voice of the hound,
that nowhere on earth could there be a grander scene for wild
action, wild life. My position afforded a commanding view over a
hundred miles of the noblest and most sublime work of nature. The
rim wall where I stood sheered down a thousand feet, to meet a
long wooded slope which cut abruptly off into another giant
precipice; a second long slope descended, and jumped off into
what seemed the grave of the world. Most striking in that vast
void were the long, irregular points of rim wall, protruding into
the Grand Canyon. From Point Sublime to the Pink Cliffs of Utah
there were twelve of these colossal capes, miles apart, some
sharp, some round, some blunt, all rugged and bold. The great
chasm in the middle was full of purple smoke. It seemed a mighty
sepulcher from which misty fumes rolled upward. The turrets,
mesas, domes, parapets and escarpments of yellow and red rock
gave the appearance of an architectural work of giant hands. The
wonderful river of silt, the blood-red, mystic and sullen Rio
Colorado, lay hidden except in one place far away, where it
glimmered wanly. Thousands of colors were blended before my rapt
gaze. Yellow predominated, as the walls and crags lorded it over
the lower cliffs and tables; red glared in the sunlight; green
softened these two, and then purple and violet, gray, blue and
the darker hues shaded away into dim and distinct obscurity.
Excited yells from my companions on the other crag recalled me to
the living aspect of the scene. Jones was leaning far down in a
niche, at seeming great hazard of life, yelling with all the
power of his strong lungs. Frank stood still farther out on a
cracked point that made me tremble, and his yell reenforced
Jones's. From far below rolled up a chorus of thrilling bays and
yelps, and Jim's call, faint, but distinct on that wonderfully
thin air, with its unmistakable note of warning.
Then on the slide I saw a lion headed for the rim wall and
climbing fast. I added my exultant cry to the medley, and I
stretched my arms wide to that illimitable void and gloried in a
moment full to the brim of the tingling joy of existence. I did
not consider how painful it must have been to the toiling lion.
It was only the spell of wild environment, of perilous yellow
crags, of thin, dry air, of voice of man and dog, of the stinging
expectation of sharp action, of life.
I watched the lion growing bigger and bigger. I saw Don and
Sounder run from the pinyon into the open slide, and heard their
impetuous burst of wild yelps as they saw their game. Then
Jones's clarion yell made me bound for my horse. I reached him,
was about to mount, when Moze came trotting toward me. I caught
the old gladiator. When he heard the chorus from below, he
plunged like a mad bull. With both arms round him I held on. I
vowed never to let him get down that slide. He howled and tore,
but I held on. My big black horse with ears laid back stood like
I heard the pattering of little sliding rocks below; stealthy
padded footsteps and hard panting breaths, almost like coughs;
then the lion passed out of the slide not twenty feet away. He
saw us, and sprang into the pinyon scrub with the leap of a
Samson himself could no longer have held Moze. Away he darted
with his sharp, angry bark. I flung myself upon Satan and rode
out to see Jones ahead and Frank flashing through the green on
the white horse.
At the end of the pinyon thicket Satan overhauled Jones's bay,
and we entered the open forest together. We saw Frank glinting
across the dark pines.
"Hi! Hi!" yelled the Colonel.
No need was there to whip or spur those magnificent horses. They
were fresh; the course was open, and smooth as a racetrack, and
the impelling chorus of the hounds was in full blast. I gave
Satan a loose rein, and he stayed neck and neck with the bay.
There was not a log, nor a stone, nor a gully. The hollows grew
wider and shallower as we raced along, and presently disappeared
altogether. The lion was running straight from the canyon, and
the certainty that he must sooner or later take to a tree,
brought from me a yell of irresistible wild joy.
"Hi! Hi! Hi!" answered Jones.
The whipping wind with its pine-scented fragrance, warm as the
breath of summer, was intoxicating as wine. The huge pines, too
kingly for close communion with their kind, made wide arches
under which the horses stretched out long and low, with supple,
springy, powerful strides. Frank's yell rang clear as a bell. We
saw him curve to the right, and took his yell as a signal for us
to cut across. Then we began to close in on him, and to hear more
distinctly the baying of the hounds.
"Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!" bawled Jones, and his great trumpet voice
rolled down the forest glades.
"Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!" I screeched, in wild recognition of the spirit
of the moment.
Fast as they were flying, the bay and the black responded to our
cries, and quickened, strained and lengthened under us till the
trees sped by in blurs.
There, plainly in sight ahead ran the hounds, Don leading,
Sounder next, and Moze not fifty yards, behind a desperately
There are all-satisfying moments of life. That chase through the
open forest, under the stately pines, with the wild, tawny quarry
in plain sight, and the glad staccato yelps of the hounds filling
my ears and swelling my heart, with the splendid action of my
horse carrying me on the wings of the wind, was glorious answer
and fullness to the call and hunger of a hunter's blood.
But as such moments must be, they were brief. The lion leaped
gracefully into the air, splintering the bark from a pine fifteen
feet up, and crouched on a limb. The hounds tore madly round the
"Full-grown female," said Jones calmly, as we dismounted, "and
she's ours. We'll call her Kitty."
Kitty was a beautiful creature, long, slender, glossy, with white
belly and black-tipped ears and tail. She did not resemble the
heavy, grim-faced brute that always hung in the air of my dreams.
A low, brooding menacing murmur, that was not a snarl nor a
growl, came from her. She watched the dogs with bright, steady
eyes, and never so much as looked at us.
The dogs were worth attention, even from us, who certainly did
not need to regard them from her personally hostile point of
view. Don stood straight up, with his forepaws beating the air;
he walked on his hind legs like the trained dog in the circus; he
yelped continuously, as if it agonized him to see the lion safe
out of his reach. Sounder had lost his identity. Joy had unhinged
his mind and had made him a dog of double personality. He had
always been unsocial with me, never responding to my attempts to
caress him, but now he leaped into my arms and licked my face. He
had always hated Jones till that moment, when he raised his paws
to his master's breast. And perhaps more remarkable, time and
time again he sprang up at Satan's nose, whether to bite him or
kiss him, I could not tell. Then old Moze, he of Grand Canyon
fame, made the delirious antics of his canine fellows look cheap.
There was a small, dead pine that had fallen against a drooping
branch of the tree Kitty had taken refuge in, and up this narrow
ladder Moze began to climb. He was fifteen feet up, and Kitty had
begun to shift uneasily, when Jones saw him.
"Hyar! you wild coon hyar! Git out of that! Come down! Come
But Jones might have been in the bottom of the canyon for all
Moze heard or cared. Jones removed his coat, carefully coiled his
lasso, and began to go hand and knee up the leaning pine.
"Hyar! dad-blast you, git down!" yelled Jones, and he kicked Moze
off. The persistent hound returned, and followed Jones to a
height of twenty feet, where again he was thrust off.
"Hold him, one of you!" called Jones.
"Not me," said Frank, "I'm lookin' out for myself."
"Same here," I cried, with a camera in one hand and a rifle in
the other. "Let Moze climb if he likes."
Climb he did, to be kicked off again. But he went back. It was a
way he had. Jones at last recognized either his own waste of time
or Moze's greatness, for he desisted, allowing the hound to keep
close after him.
The cougar, becoming uneasy, stood up, reached for another limb,
climbed out upon it, and peering down, spat hissingly at Jones.
But he kept steadily on with Moze close on his heels. I snapped
my camera on them when Kitty was not more than fifteen feet above
them. As Jones reached the snag which upheld the leaning tree,
she ran out on her branch, and leaped into an adjoining pine. It
was a good long jump, and the weight of the animal bent the limb
Jones backed down, and laboriously began to climb the other tree.
As there were no branches low down, he had to hug the trunk with
arms and legs as a boy climbs. His lasso hampered his progress.
When the slow ascent was accomplished up to the first branch,
Kitty leaped back into her first perch. Strange to say Jones did
not grumble; none of his characteristic impatience manifested
itself. I supposed with him all the exasperating waits, vexatious
obstacles, were little things preliminary to the real work, to
which he had now come. He was calm and deliberate, and slid down
the pine, walked back to the leaning tree, and while resting a
moment, shook his lasso at Kitty. This action fitted him,
somehow; it was so compatible with his grim assurance.
To me, and to Frank, also, for that matter, it was all new and
startling, and we were as excited as the dogs. We kept
continually moving about, Frank mounted, and I afoot, to get good
views of the cougar. When she crouched as if to leap, it was
almost impossible to remain under the tree, and we kept moving.
Once more Jones crept up on hands and knees. Moze walked the
slanting pine like a rope performer. Kitty began to grow
restless. This time she showed both anger and impatience, but did
not yet appear frightened. She growled low and deep, opened her
mouth and hissed, and swung her tufted tail faster and faster.
"Look out, Jones! look out!" yelled Frank warningly.
Jones, who had reached the trunk of the tree, halted and slipped
round it, placing it between him and Kitty. She had advanced on
her limb, a few feet above Jones, and threateningly hung over.
Jones backed down a little till she crossed to another branch,
then he resumed his former position.
"Watch below," called he.
Hardly any doubt was there as to how we watched. Frank and I were
all eyes, except very high and throbbing hearts. When Jones
thrashed the lasso at Kitty we both yelled. She ran out on the
branch and jumped. This time she fell short of her point,
clutched a dead snag, which broke, letting her through a bushy
branch from where she hung head downward. For a second she swung
free, then reaching toward the tree caught it with front paws,
ran down like a squirrel, and leaped off when thirty feet from
the ground. The action was as rapid as it was astonishing.
Like a yellow rubber ball she bounded up, and fled with the
yelping hounds at her heels. The chase was short. At the end of a
hundred yards Moze caught up with her and nipped her. She whirled
with savage suddenness, and lunged at Moze, but he cunningly
eluded the vicious paws. Then she sought safety in another pine.
Frank, who was as quick as the hounds, almost rode them down in
his eagerness. While Jones descended from his perch, I led the
two horses down the forest.
This time the cougar was well out on a low spreading branch.
Jones conceived the idea of raising the loop of his lasso on a
long pole, but as no pole of sufficient length could be found, he
tried from the back of his horse. The bay walked forward well
enough; when, however, he got under the beast and heard her
growl, he reared and almost threw Jones. Frank's horse could not
be persuaded to go near the tree. Satan evinced no fear of the
cougar, and without flinching carried Jones directly beneath the
limb and stood with ears back and forelegs stiff.
"Look at that! look at that!" cried Jones, as the wary cougar
pawed the loop aside. Three successive times did Jones have the
lasso just ready to drop over her neck, when she flashed a yellow
paw and knocked the noose awry. Then she leaped far out over the
waiting dogs, struck the ground with a light, sharp thud, and
began to run with the speed of a deer. Frank's cowboy training
now stood us in good stead. He was off like a shot and turned the
cougar from the direction of the canyon. Jones lost not a moment
in pursuit, and I, left with Jones's badly frightened bay, got
going in time to see the race, but not to assist. For several
hundred yards Kitty made the hounds appear slow. Don, being
swiftest, gained on her steadily toward the close of the dash,
and presently was running under her upraised tail. On the next
jump he nipped her. She turned and sent him reeling. Sounder came
flying up to bite her flank, and at the same moment fierce old
Moze closed in on her. The next instant a struggling mass whirled
on the ground. Jones and Frank, yelling like demons, almost rode
over it. The cougar broke from her assailants, and dashing away
leaped on the first tree. It was a half-dead pine with short
snags low down and a big branch extending out over a ravine.
"I think we can hold her now," said Jones. The tree proved to be
a most difficult one to climb. Jones made several ineffectual
attempts before he reached the first limb, which broke, giving
him a hard fall. This calmed me enough to make me take notice of
Jones's condition. He was wet with sweat and covered with the
black pitch from the pines; his shirt was slit down the arm, and
there was blood on his temple and his hand. The next attempt
began by placing a good-sized log against the tree, and proved to
be the necessary help. Jones got hold of the second limb and
pulled himself up.
As he kept on, Kitty crouched low as if to spring upon him. Again
Frank and I sent warning calls to him, but he paid no attention
to us or to the cougar, and continued to climb. This worried
Kitty as much as it did us. She began to move on the snags,
stepping from one to the other, every moment snarling at Jones,
and then she crawled up. The big branch evidently took her eye.
She tried several times to climb up to it, but small snags close
together made her distrustful. She walked uneasily out upon two
limbs, and as they bent with her weight she hurried back. Twice
she did this, each time looking up, showing her desire to leap to
the big branch. Her distress became plainly evident; a child
could have seen that she feared she would fall. At length, in
desperation, she spat at Jones, then ran out and leaped. She all
but missed the branch, but succeeded in holding to it and
swinging to safety. Then she turned to her tormentor, and gave
utterance to most savage sounds. As she did not intimidate her
pursuer, she retreated out on the branch, which sloped down at a
deep angle, and crouched on a network of small limbs.
When Jones had worked up a little farther, he commanded a
splendid position for his operations. Kitty was somewhat below
him in a desirable place, yet the branch she was on joined the
tree considerably above his head. Jones cast his lasso. It caught
on a snag. Throw after throw he made with like result. He
recoiled and recast nineteen times, to my count, when Frank made
"Rope those dead snags an' break them off."
This practical idea Jones soon carried out, which left him a
clear path. The next fling of the lariat caused the cougar
angrily to shake her head. Again Jones sent the noose flying. She
pulled it off her back and bit it savagely.
Though very much excited, I tried hard to keep sharp, keen
faculties alert so as not to miss a single detail of the
thrilling scene. But I must have failed, for all of a sudden I
saw how Jones was standing in the tree, something I had not
before appreciated. He had one hand hold, which he could not use
while recoiling the lasso, and his feet rested upon a
precariously frail-appearing, dead snag. He made eleven casts of
the lasso, all of which bothered Kitty, but did not catch her.
The twelfth caught her front paw. Jones jerked so quickly and
hard that he almost lost his balance, and he pulled the noose
off. Patiently he recoiled the lasso.
"That's what I want. If I can get her front paw she's ours. My
idea is to pull her off the limb, let her hang there, and then
lasso her hind legs."
Another cast, the unlucky thirteenth, settled the loop perfectly
round her neck. She chewed on the rope with her front teeth and
appeared to have difficulty in holding it.
"Easy! Easy! Ooze thet rope! Easy!" yelled the cowboy.
Cautiously Jones took up the slack and slowly tightened the nose,
then with a quick jerk, fastened it close round her neck.
We heralded this achievement with yells of triumph that made the
Our triumph was short-lived. Jones had hardly moved when the
cougar shot straight out into the air. The lasso caught on a
branch, hauling her up short, and there she hung in mid-air,
writhing, struggling and giving utterance to sounds terribly
human. For several seconds she swung, slowly descending, in which
frenzied time I, with ruling passion uppermost, endeavored to
snap a picture of her.
The unintelligible commands Jones was yelling to Frank and me
ceased suddenly with a sharp crack of breaking wood. Then crash!
Jones fell out of the tree. The lasso streaked up, ran over the
limb, while the cougar dropped pell-mell into the bunch of
waiting, howling dogs.
The next few moments it was impossible for me to distinguish what
actually transpired. A great flutter of leaves whirled round a
swiftly changing ball of brown and black and yellow, from which
came a fiendish clamor.
Then I saw Jones plunge down the ravine and bounce here and there
in mad efforts to catch the whipping lasso. He was roaring in a
way that made all his former yells merely whispers. Starting to
run, I tripped on a root, fell prone on my face into the ravine,
and rolled over and over until I brought up with a bump against a
What a tableau rivited my gaze! It staggered me so I did not
think of my camera. I stood transfixed not fifteen feet from the
cougar. She sat on her haunches with body well drawn back by the
taut lasso to which Jones held tightly. Don was standing up with
her, upheld by the hooked claws in his head. The cougar had her
paws outstretched; her mouth open wide, showing long, cruel,
white fangs; she was trying to pull the head of the dog to her.
Don held back with all his power, and so did Jones. Moze and
Sounder were tussling round her body. Suddenly both ears of the
dog pulled out, slit into ribbons. Don had never uttered a sound,
and once free, he made at her again with open jaws. One blow sent
him reeling and stunned. Then began again that wrestling whirl.
"Beat off the dogs! Beat off the dogs!" roared Jones. "She'll
kill them! She'll kill them!"
Frank and I seized clubs and ran in upon the confused furry mass,
forgetful of peril to ourselves. In the wild contagion of such a
savage moment the minds of men revert wholly to primitive
instincts. We swung our clubs and yelled; we fought all over the
bottom of the ravine, crashing through the bushes, over logs and
stones. I actually felt the soft fur of the cougar at one
fleeting instant. The dogs had the strength born of insane
fighting spirit. At last we pulled them to where Don lay,
half-stunned, and with an arm tight round each, I held them while
Frank turned to help Jones.
The disheveled Jones, bloody, grim as death, his heavy jaw
locked, stood holding to the lasso. The cougar, her sides shaking
with short, quick pants, crouched low on the ground with eyes of
"For God's sake, get a half-hitch on the saplin'!" called the
His quick grasp of the situation averted a tragedy. Jones was
nearly exhausted, even as he was beyond thinking for himself or
giving up. The cougar sprang, a yellow, frightful flash. Even as
she was in the air, Jones took a quick step to one side and
dodged as he threw his lasso round the sapling. She missed him,
but one alarmingly outstretched paw grazed his shoulder. A twist
of Jones's big hand fastened the lasso--and Kitty was a prisoner.
While she fought, rolled, twisted, bounded, whirled, writhed with
hissing, snarling fury, Jones sat mopping the sweat and blood
from his face.
Kitty's efforts were futile; she began to weaken from the
choking. Jones took another rope, and tightening a noose around
her back paws, which he lassoed as she rolled over, he stretched
her out. She began to contract her supple body, gave a savage,
convulsive spring, which pulled Jones flat on the ground, then
the terrible wrestling started again. The lasso slipped over her
back paws. She leaped the whole length of the other lasso. Jones
caught it and fastened it more securely; but this precaution
proved unnecessary, for she suddenly sank down either exhausted
or choked, and gasped with her tongue hanging out. Frank slipped
the second noose over her back paws, and Jones did likewise with
a third lasso over her right front paw. These lassoes Jones tied
to different saplings.
"Now you are a good Kitty," said Jones, kneeling by her. He took
a pair of clippers from his hip pocket, and grasping a paw in his
powerful fist he calmly clipped the points of the dangerous
claws. This done, he called to me to get the collar and chain
that were tied to his saddle. I procured them and hurried back.
Then the old buffalo hunter loosened the lasso which was round
her neck, and as soon as she could move her head, he teased her
to bite a club. She broke two good sticks with her sharp teeth,
but the third, being solid, did not break. While she was chewing
it Jones forced her head back and placed his heavy knee on the
club. In a twinkling he had strapped the collar round her neck.
The chain he made fast to the sapling. After removing the club
from her mouth he placed his knee on her neck, and while her head
was in this helpless position he dexterously slipped a loop of
thick copper wire over her nose, pushed it back and twisted it
tight Following this, all done with speed and precision, he took
from his pocket a piece of steel rod, perhaps one-quarter of an
inch thick, and five inches long. He pushed this between Kitty's
jaws, just back of her great white fangs, and in front of the
copper wire. She had been shorn of her sharp weapons; she was
muzzled, bound, helpless, an object to pity.
Lastly Jones removed the three lassoes. Kitty slowly gathered her
lissom body in a ball and lay panting, with the same brave
wildfire in her eyes. Jones stroked her black-tipped ears and ran
his hand down her glossy fur. All the time he had kept up a low
monotone, talking to her in the strange language he used toward
animals. Then he rose to his feet.
"We'll go back to camp now, and get a pack, saddle and horse," he
said. "She'll be safe here. We'll rope her again, tie her up,
throw her over a pack-saddle, and take her to camp."
To my utter bewilderment the hounds suddenly commenced fighting
among themselves. Of all the vicious bloody dog-fights I ever saw
that was the worst. I began to belabor them with a club, and
Frank sprang to my assistance. Beating had no apparent effect. We
broke a dozen sticks, and then Frank grappled with Moze and I
with Sounder. Don kept on fighting either one till Jones secured
him. Then we all took a rest, panting and weary.
"What's it mean?" I ejaculated, appealing to Jones.
"Jealous, that's all. Jealous over the lion."
We all remained seated, men and hounds, a sweaty, dirty, bloody,
ragged group. I discovered I was sorry for Kitty. I forgot all
the carcasses of deer and horses, the brutality of this species
of cat; and even forgot the grim, snarling yellow devil that had
leaped at me. Kitty was beautiful and helpless. How brave she
was, too! No sign of fear shone in her wonderful eyes, only hate,
On the ride back to camp Jones expressed himself thus: "How happy
I am that I can keep this lion and the others we are going to
capture, for my own. When I was in the Yellowstone Park I did not
get to keep one of the many I captured. The military officials
took them from me."
When we reached camp Lawson was absent, but fortunately Old Baldy
browsed near at hand, and was easily caught. Frank said he would
rather take Old Baldy for the cougar than any other horse we had.
Leaving me in camp, he and Jones rode off to fetch Kitty.
About five o'clock they came trotting up through the forest with
Jim, who had fallen in with them on the way. Old Baldy had
remained true to his fame--nothing, not even a cougar bothered
him. Kitty, evidently no worse for her experience, was chained to
a pine tree about fifty feet from the campfire.
Wallace came riding wearily in, and when he saw the captive, he
greeted us with an exultant yell. He got there just in time to
see the first special features of Kitty's captivity. The hounds
surrounded her, and could not be called off. We had to beat them.
Whereupon the six jealous canines fell to fighting among
themselves, and fought so savagely as to be deaf to our cries and
insensible to blows. They had to be torn apart and chained.
About six o'clock Lawson loped in with the horses. Of course he
did not know we had a cougar, and no one seemed interested enough
to inform him. Perhaps only Frank and I thought of it; but I saw
a merry snap in Frank's eyes, and kept silent. Kitty had hidden
behind the pine tree. Lawson, astride Jones' pack horse, a
crochety animal, reined in just abreast of the tree, and
leisurely threw his leg over the saddle. Kitty leaped out to the
extent of her chain, and fairly exploded in a frightful cat-spit.
Lawson had stated some time before that he was afraid of cougars,
which was a weakness he need not have divulged in view of what
happened. The horse plunged, throwing him ten feet, and snorting
in terror, stampeded with the rest of the bunch and disappeared
among the pines.
"Why the hell didn't you tell a feller?" reproachfully growled
the Arizonian. Frank and Jim held each other upright, and the
rest of us gave way to as hearty if not as violent mirth.
We had a gay supper, during which Kitty sat her pine and watched
our every movement.
"We'll rest up for a day or two," said Jones "Things have
commenced to come our way. If I'm not mistaken we'll bring an old
Tom alive into camp. But it would never do for us to get a big
Tom in the fix we had Kitty to-day. You see, I wanted to lasso
her front paw, pull her off the limb, tie my end of the lasso to
the tree, and while she hung I'd go down and rope her hind paws.
It all went wrong to-day, and was as tough a job as I ever
Not until late next morning did Lawson corral all the horses.
That day we lounged in camp mending broken bridles, saddles,
stirrups, lassoes, boots, trousers, leggins, shirts and even
During this time I found Kitty a most interesting study. She
reminded me of an enormous yellow kitten. She did not appear wild
or untamed until approached. Then she slowly sank down, laid back
her ears, opened her mouth and hissed and spat, at the same time
throwing both paws out viciously. Kitty may have rested, but did
not sleep. At times she fought her chain, tugging and straining
at it, and trying to bite it through. Everything in reach she
clawed, particularly the bark of the tree. Once she tried to hang
herself by leaping over a low limb. When any one walked by her
she crouched low, evidently imagining herself unseen. If one of
us walked toward her, or looked at her, she did not crouch. At
other times, noticeably when no one was near, she would roll on
her back and extend all four paws in the air. Her actions were
beautiful, soft, noiseless, quick and subtle.
The day passed, as all days pass in camp, swiftly and pleasantly,
and twilight stole down upon us round the ruddy fire. The wind
roared in the pines and lulled to repose; the lonesome, friendly
coyote barked; the bells on the hobbled horses jingled sweetly;
the great watch stars blinked out of the blue.
The red glow of the burning logs lighted up Jones's calm, cold
face. Tranquil, unalterable and peaceful it seemed; yet beneath
the peace I thought I saw a suggestion of wild restraint, of
mystery, of unslaked life.
Strangely enough, his next words confirmed my last thought.
"For forty years I've had an ambition. It's to get possession of
an island in the Pacific, somewhere between Vancouver and Alaska,
and then go to Siberia and capture a lot of Russian sables. I'd
put them on the island and cross them with our silver foxes. I'm
going to try it next year if I can find the time."
The ruling passion and character determine our lives. Jones was
sixty-three years old, yet the thing that had ruled and absorbed
his mind was still as strong as the longing for freedom in
Kitty's wild heart.
Hours after I had crawled into my sleeping-bag, in the silence of
night I heard her working to get free. In darkness she was most
active, restless, intense. I heard the clink of her chain, the
crack of her teeth, the scrape of her claws. How tireless she
was. I recalled the wistful light in her eyes that saw, no doubt,
far beyond the campfire to the yellow crags, to the great
downward slopes, to freedom. I slipped my elbow out of the bag
and raised myself. Dark shadows were hovering under the pines. I
saw Kitty's eyes gleam like sparks, and I seemed to see in them
the hate, the fear, the terror she had of the clanking thing that
I shivered, perhaps from the cold night wind which moaned through
the pines; I saw the stars glittering pale and far off, and under
their wan light the still, set face of Jones, and blanketed forms
of my other companions.
The last thing I remembered before dropping into dreamless
slumber was hearing a bell tinkle in the forest, which I
recognized as the one I had placed on Satan.
CHAPTER 17. CONCLUSION
Kitty was not the only cougar brought into camp alive. The
ensuing days were fruitful of cougars and adventure. There were
more wild rides to the music of the baying hounds, and more
heart-breaking canyon slopes to conquer, and more swinging,
tufted tails and snarling savage faces in the pinyons. Once
again, I am sorry to relate, I had to glance down the sights of
the little Remington, and I saw blood on the stones. Those
eventful days sped by all too soon.
When the time for parting came it took no little discussion to
decide on the quickest way of getting me to a railroad. I never
fully appreciated the inaccessibility of the Siwash until the
question arose of finding a way out. To return on our back trail
would require two weeks, and to go out by the trail north to Utah
meant half as much time over the same kind of desert. Lawson came
to our help, however, with the information that an occasional
prospector or horse hunter crossed the canyon from the Saddle,
where a trail led down to the river.
"I've heard the trail is a bad one," said Lawson, "an' though I
never seen it, I reckon it could be found. After we get to the
Saddle we'll build two fires on one of the high points an' keep
them burnin' well after dark. If Mr. Bass, who lives on the other
side, sees the fires he'll come down his trail next mornin' an'
meet us at the river. He keeps a boat there. This is takin' a
chance, but I reckon it's worth while."
So it was decided that Lawson and Frank would try to get me out
by way of the canyon; Wallace intended to go by the Utah route,
and Jones was to return at once to his range and his buffalo.
That night round the campfire we talked over the many incidents
of the hunt. Jones stated he had never in his life come so near
getting his "everlasting" as when the big bay horse tripped on a
canyon slope and rolled over him. Notwithstanding the respect
with which we regarded his statement we held different opinions.
Then, with the unfailing optimism of hunters, we planned another
hunt for the next year.
"I'll tell you what," said Jones. "Up in Utah there's a wild
region called Pink Cliffs. A few poor sheep-herders try to raise
sheep in the valleys. They wouldn't be so poor if it was not for
the grizzly and black bears that live on the sheep. We'll go up
there, find a place where grass and water can be had, and camp.
We'll notify the sheep-herders we are there for business. They'll
be only too glad to hustle in with news of a bear, and we can get
the hounds on the trail by sun-up. I'll have a dozen hounds then,
maybe twenty, and all trained. We'll put every black bear we
chase up a tree, and we'll rope and tie him. As to
grizzlies--well, I'm not saying so much. They can't climb trees,
and they are not afraid of a pack of hounds. If we rounded up a
grizzly, got him cornered, and threw a rope on him--there'd be
some fun, eh, Jim?"
"Shore there would," Jim replied.
On the strength of this I stored up food for future thought and
thus reconciled myself to bidding farewell to the purple canyons
and shaggy slopes of Buckskin Mountain.
At five o'clock next morning we were all stirring. Jones yelled
at the hounds and untangled Kitty's chain. Jim was already busy
with the biscuit dough. Frank shook the frost off the saddles.
Wallace was packing. The merry jangle of bells came from the
forest, and presently Lawson appeared driving in the horses. I
caught my black and saddled him, then realizing we were soon to
part I could not resist giving him a hug.
An hour later we all stood at the head of the trail leading down
into the chasm. The east gleamed rosy red. Powell's Plateau
loomed up in the distance, and under it showed the dark-fringed
dip in the rim called the Saddle. Blue mist floated round the
mesas and domes.
Lawson led the way down the trail. Frank started Old Baldy with
"Come," he called, "be oozin' along."
I spoke the last good-by and turned Satan into the narrow trail.
When I looked back Jones stood on the rim with the fresh glow of
dawn shining on his face. The trail was steep, and claimed my
attention and care, but time and time again I gazed back. Jones
waved his hand till a huge jutting cliff walled him from view.
Then I cast my eyes on the rough descent and the wonderful void
beneath me. In my mind lingered a pleasing consciousness of my
last sight of the old plainsman. He fitted the scene; he belonged
there among the silent pines and the yellow crags.
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