I shouted and ran forward, having no idea what to do, but Emett rolled backward, at the same instant the other men got a strong haul on the lion. Short as that moment was in which the lasso slackened, it sufficed for Jones to make the rope fast to a tree. Whereupon with the three men pulling on the other side of the leaping lion, somehow I had flashed into my mind the game that children play, called skipping the rope, for the lion and lasso shot up and down.
This lasted for only a few seconds. They stretched the beast from tree to tree, and Jones running with the third lasso, made fast the front paws.
“It’s a female,” said Jones, as the lion lay helpless, her sides swelling; “a good-sized female. She’s nearly eight feet from tip to tip, but not very heavy. Hand me another rope.”
When all four lassos had been stretched, the lioness could not move. Jones strapped a collar around her neck and clipped the sharp yellow claws.
“Now to muzzle her,” he continued.
Jones’ method of performing this most hazardous part of the work was characteristic of him. He thrust a stick between her open jaws, and when she crushed it to splinters he tried another, and yet another, until he found one that she could not break. Then while she bit on it, he placed a wire loop over her nose, slowly tightening it, leaving the stick back of her big canines.
The hounds ceased their yelping and when untied, Sounder wagged his tail as if to say, “Well done,” and then lay down; Don walked within three feet of the lion, as if she were now beneath his dignity; Jude began to nurse and lick her sore paw; only Moze the incorrigible retained antipathy for the captive, and he growled, as always, low and deep. And on the moment, Ranger, dusty and lame from travel, trotted wearily into the glade and, looking at the lioness, gave one disgusted bark and flopped down.
Transporting our captives to camp bade fair to make us work. When Jones, who had gone after the pack horses, hove in sight on the sage flat, it was plain to us that we were in for trouble. The bay stallion was on the rampage.
“Why didn’t you fetch the Indian?” growled Emett, who lost his temper when matters concerning his horses went wrong. “Spread out, boys, and head him off.”
We contrived to surround the stallion, and Emett succeeded in getting a halter on him.
“I didn’t want the bay,” explained Jones, “but I couldn’t drive the others without him. When I told that redskin that we had two lions, he ran off into the woods, so I had to come alone.”
“I’m going to scalp the Navajo,” said Jim, complacently.
These remarks were exchanged on the open ridge at the entrance to the thick cedar forest. The two lions lay just within its shady precincts. Emett and I, using a long pole in lieu of a horse, had carried Tom up from the Canyon to where we had captured the lioness.