“I think I’d scalp the Navvy,” he said.
“You make the Indian sleep outside after this, snow or no snow,” was Jones’ suggestion.
“No I won’t; I won’t show a yellow streak like that. Besides, I want to give ’em to you fellows.”
A blank silence followed my statement, to which Jim replied:
“Shore that’ll be easy; Jones’ll have ’em, so’ll Emett, an’ by thunder I’m scratchin’ now.”
“Navvy, look here,” I said severely, “mucha no bueno! heap bad! You—me!” here I scratched myself and made signs that a wooden Indian would have understood.
“Me savvy,” he replied, sullenly, then flared up. “Heap big lie.”
He turned on his heel, erect, dignified, and walked away amid the roars of my gleeful comrades.
One by one my companions sought their blankets, leaving the shadows, the dying embers, the slow-rising moan of the night wind to me. Old Moze got up from among the other hounds and limped into my tent, where I heard him groan as he lay down. Don, Sounder, and Ranger were fast asleep in well-earned rest. Shep, one of the pups, whined and impatiently tossed his short chain. Remembering that he had not been loose all day, I unbuckled his collar and let him go.
He licked my hand, stretched and shook himself, lifted his shapely, sleek head and sniffed the wind. He trotted around the circle cast by the fire and looked out into the darkening shadows. It was plain that Shep’s instincts were developing fast; he was ambitious to hunt. But sure in my belief that he was afraid of the black night and would stay in camp, I went to bed.
The Navajo who slept with me snored serenely and Moze growled in his dreams; the wind swept through the pines with an intermittent rush. Some time in the after part of the night I heard a distant sound. Remote, mournful, wild, it sent a chill creeping over me. Borne faintly to my ears, it was a fit accompaniment to the moan of the wind in the pines. It was not the cry of a trailing wolf, nor the lonesome howl of a prowling coyote, nor the strange, low sound, like a cough, of a hunting cougar, though it had a semblance of all three. It was the bay of a hound, thinned out by distance, and it served to keep me wide awake. But for a while, what with the roar and swell of the wind and Navvy’s snores, I could hear it only at long intervals.
Still, in the course of an hour, I followed the sound, or imagined so, from a point straight in line with my feet to one at right angles with my head. Finally deciding it came from Shep, and fancying he was trailing a deer or coyote, I tried to go to sleep again.
In this I would have succeeded had not, all at once, our captive lions begun to growl. That ominous, low murmuring awoke me with a vengeance, for it was unusual for them to growl in the middle of the night. I wondered if they, as well as the pup, had gotten the scent of a prowling lion.