“Do you see him?” I called.
“I see something, but it looks too big for a coon,” he returned.
“What does it look like?”
“It looks more like a cat, with queer-looking ears.”
“You’d better come down then, Jerry,” I said quickly.
“It looks like a lynx,” he called again, quite unperturbed.
It was quite possible that he was right, for in this part of the Catskill country lynxes were still plentiful.
“Then come down at once,” I shouted. “He may go for you.”
“Oh, I’m not worried about that. I have my hunting knife,” he said coolly.
“Come down, do you hear?” I commanded.
“Not until he does,” he replied with a laugh.
I called again. Jerry didn’t reply, for just then there was a sudden shaking of the dry leaves above me, the creaking of a bough and the snarl of a wild animal, and the sound of a blow.
“Jerry!” I cried. No reply, but the sound of the struggle overhead increased, dreadful sounds of snarling and of scratching, but no sound of Jerry. Fearful of imminent tragedy, I climbed quickly, amid the uproar of the dogs, and, knife in hand, had got my feet an the lower branches, when a heavy weight shot by me and fell to the ground. Thank God, not the boy!
“Jerry!” I cried again, clambering upward.
“A-all r-right, Mr. Canby,” I heard. “You’re safe, not hurt?”
“I’m all right, I think. Just—just scratched.”
By this time I had reached him. He was braced in the crotch of a limb, leaning against the tree trunk still holding his hunting knife. His coat was wet and I guessed at rather than saw the pallor of his face Below were the sounds of the dogs worrying at the animal.
“I—I guess they’ve finished him,” said Jerry coolly sheathing his knife.
“It’s lucky he didn’t finish you,” I muttered. “You’re sure you’re not hurt?”
“Can you get down alone?”
“Yes, of course.”
But I helped him down, nevertheless, and he reached the ground in safety, where I saw that his face at least had escaped damage. But the sleeve of his coat was torn to ribbons, and the blood was dripping from his finger ends.
“Come,” I said, taking his arm, “we’ll have to get you attended to.” And then severely: “You disobeyed me, Jerry. Why didn’t you come down?”
He hesitated a moment, smiling, and then: “I had no idea a lynx was so large.”
“It’s a miracle,” I said in wonder at his escape. “How did you hang on?”
“I saw him spring and braced myself in time,” he said simply, “and putting my elbow over my head, struck with my knife when he was on me—two, three, many times—until he let go. But I was glad, very glad when he fell.”
I drove the dogs away, lifted the dead beast over my shoulder and led the way to the dog cart, which we had left in the road half a mile off, reaching the Manor house very bloody but happy. But the happiest of the lot of us, even including Skookums, the bull pup, was Jerry himself at the sight under the lamplight of the formidable size of his dead enemy. But I led Jerry at once upstairs, where I stripped him and took account of his injuries.