When the hunt was resumed Jed Sanborn turned along the mountainside, where there were a series of shelving rocks. He had gone but a short distance when he uttered a cry:
“A bear! a bear!”
“Where?” asked all of the others simultaneously.
“Over on yonder cliff! There he goes!”
The young hunters looked in the direction indicated, and saw a bear leaping swiftly from rock to rock. Almost before they knew it he was out of sight. They were too far away to take a shot, much to their disappointment.
“Any use of going after him?” asked Whopper.
“Not now,” answered Jed Sanborn. “He’ll be on guard all day. You can come back some other day if you want to. But be careful he don’t chew ye up.”
Again they went on, and now came to a slight hollow on the mountainside. Suddenly Snap saw something moving cautiously over the rocks close at hand.
“There’s a wildcat!” he cried, and swinging around his gun he fired. The wildcat was hit in the side but kept on. Then Giant fired, hitting the beast in the head, and it rolled from the rocks to a position almost at their feet.
“Is it dead?” asked the doctor’s son.
“Dead as a door nail,” announced the small youth, after an examination.
“I think that wildcat came from yonder hole in the rocks,” said Snap, pointing to the opening in question.
“If he did there may be more of them there,” answered Whopper. “How can we find out?”
“Might go up, ring the doorbell, and ask,” suggested Snap, with a grin.
“Excuse me, I don’t want to walk into any wildcat’s hotel,” was Whopper’s answer. “I heard of a fellow who did that once, and when he came out he was still on the inside.”
“Still on the inside?” repeated Jed Sanborn.
“Yes—–inside the wildcats,” and this answer made the old hunter roar loudly.
“Let us throw rocks into the opening,” suggested Giant, and began to do as he had suggested. They heard a growl, but no wildcats showed themselves.
“I’ll throw a firebrand in,” said Jed Sanborn, and cut a dry cedar bough. “Stand ready to shoot, if anything shows itself.”
With interest the boys watched the old hunter prepare his firebrand and light it. Then he swung it into a lively blaze, let fly, and sent it whirling into the hollow among the rocks.
Hardly had the firebrand disappeared when there came a savage growl and some whines, and from the hollow leaped a female wildcat with a little one in her teeth. After the two came another little one.
As soon as the big wildcat appeared the boys blazed away, and the mother and her offspring were shot dead. Then Whopper raised his shotgun to kill the other little one, but suddenly lowered the weapon.
“I can’t kill such a baby,” he murmured.
“I am sorry we killed the other little one,” added Snap, soberly.