No laughing matter was it for them. They volleyed and thundered back and forth meaningless words of which “hell” was the only one distinguishable, and probably the word that best described their situation.
All the while, however, they had been running from the lioness, which brought them before they realized it right into camp. Our captive lions cut up fearfully at the hubbub, and the horses stampeded in terror.
“Whoa!” yelled Jones, whether to his companions or to the struggling cougar, no one knew. But Navvy thought Jones addressed the cougar.
“Whoa!” repeated Navvy. “No savvy whoa! No savvy whoa!” which proved conclusively that the Navajo had understanding as well as wit.
Soon we had another captive safely chained and growling away in tune with the others. I went back to untie the hounds, to find them sulky and out of sorts from being so unceremoniously treated. They noisily trailed the lioness into camp, where, finding her chained, they formed a ring around her.
Thereafter the day passed in round-the-camp-fire chat and task. For once Jim looked at Navvy with toleration. We dressed the wound in Jones’ head and laughed at the condition of his trousers and at his awkward attempts to piece them.
“Mucha dam cougie,” remarked Navvy. “No savvy whoa!”
The lions growled all day. And Jones kept repeating: “To think how Shep fooled me!”
Next morning Jones was out bright and early, yelling at Navvy to hurry with the horses, calling to the hounds and lions, just as usual.
Navvy had finally come to his full share of praise from all of us. Even Jim acknowledged that the Indian was invaluable to a hunting party in a country where grass and water were hard to find and wild horses haunted the trails.
“Tohodena! Tohodena! (hurry! hurry!)” said Navvy, mimicking Jones that morning.
As we sat down to breakfast he loped off into the forest and before we got up the bells of the horses were jingling in the hollow.
“I believe it’s going to be cloudy,” said Jones, “and if so we can hunt all day.”
We rode down the ridge to the left of Middle Canyon, and had trouble with the hounds all the way. First they ran foul of a coyote, which was the one and only beast they could not resist. Spreading out to head them off, we separated. I cut into a hollow and rode to its head, where I went up. I heard the hounds and presently saw a big, white coyote making fast time through the forest glades. It looked as if he would cross close in front of me, so I pulled Foxie to a standstill, jumped off and knelt with my rifle ready. But the sharp-eyed coyote saw my horse and shied off. I had not much hope to hit him so far away, and the five bullets I sent after him, singing and zipping, served only to make him run faster. I mounted Foxie and intercepted the hounds coming up sharply on the trail, and turned them toward my companions, now hallooing from the ridge below.