So far, Jack and his brothers have been at the rodeo, , been in a fight, encountered wolves, a blizzard, and now the mountain Lion
Vard told Jack that he’d sit up on the ridge that night and keep a sharp eye out in case the cougar tried to sneak in. There was a nice little mesa just to the south of the herd that would give him a better shot, and since they had heard it from the north side, he figured he’d get the draw on it.
Sometimes in life the best laid plans just don’t work the way folks would like em to.
Here was Vard up there with a full moon and no clouds for a change, so he could see everything. The nightingales were singing and Vard took comfort in the peace of it all. Somewhere about midnight Vard dozed off.
There is no telling how long he’d slept when he felt something warm and wet against his neck. Now when they were kids, J and Jack both would mess around with Vard when he was asleep. Still groggy Vard slapped at what he thought was the boys, but to his horror he heard, rowel. Vard became a little more awake and said, “rowel?” As he turned around he was face to face with that damn cougar.
He let out a war cry and jumped down over a six foot ledge and left his gun; meanwhile the cougar jumped about six feet in the air, and when she lit, she jumped over the ledge and ran in the direction of the herd.
Jack wanted the herd to move in the daylight, so if she did come he’d be able to handle her. He never figured this to come about. Just as she was about to nail a young calf, Orville shot her in mid air, and she dropped dead at the feet of the calf. Well sir, that spooked the cows, Vard fell off the rest of the mesa, Cookie tripped over the fire pit, but managed to not get burned, J just turned over in his bed roll, and Jack grabbed his rifle and went charging in the direction of the herd.
By Jack running & hollering into the herd, it got them stopped for the most part.
“Vard what the hell is going on? I thought you were spos’ed to guard the damn herd.” Jack had that look in his eyes that no one ever wanted to see and Vard was right in his face by then.
“Oh Jack that was the damndest thing ever. That ole cat came right up behind me and was about to bite my neck when I jumped over the ledge. I taint never been so scared in all my life. Jack was about to smack him, when Vard bowed his head and said, “aw hell Jack, I think I shit myself.”
Jack began to snicker. The only other time he had ever seen Vard that scared was when they were 10 and Ma Brotherson’s prize bull broke through the fence and gave Vard such a scare, he crapped himself as he jumped over the fence into his ma’s vegetable garden.
“Jack, you damn fart, I could a been kilt, and you laugh at me. If I didn’t stink so bad, I’d clobber you. With that he stormed off towards the camp.
Just about then everyone looked toward the sound of the cub meowing from the thicket just behind Cookies chuck wagon.
Cookie said, “Oh my gaud, Jack, she was right here where we was sleepen. she could a kilt us fer sure.”
“Take it easy, Cookie,! said Orville. “Let’s take a look at that cub.”
When they got there, there was the cub hiding in the thicket. It was about three months old and had its back up and in one hell of a fighten stance. By then J was up and took his bed roll tarp and threw it over the cub. All hell broke loose as J tried to capture the cub. Jack jumped on it as well and they managed to get it down on its stomach so it could not claw so much.
“What we gonna do with it Jack?” asked Cookie.
“Well it won’t survive without it ma and somthen to eat. We either kill it, or we cage it and feed it until we get to Thermopolis and it can go into the animal hold there at the court house. Any objections?” asked Jack.
Cookie had a cage that he kept on the side of the wagon, in case they came across just such a thing, but was thinking more of a coyote or wolf.
“I can take care of it,” said Cookie. “We’ll just have to set it on end and dump it into it upside down and then shut the door quick like sos’ to keep it from getting out.”
It worked like clockwork. Cookie tossed in a hunk of meat from the calf he had skinned. It took a day or two, but eventually it ate it and Cookie fed it canned milk watered down.
The snow had melted and that evening they rolled into Worland, and drove the herd to the stock yard for a day or two, to get rested up and, get ready for the final leg into Thermopolis. By now the snow had melted, and it should make fer an easy trip home.
Now what makes you think it was gonna be easy?
The book continues with Hello Boys.