Previous wakefulness made sleep necessary during most of the night, but at daybreak they were astir and at the casement to catch the first possible glimpse of the situation. As it became light enough, they discovered a huge, handsome panther stretched out on the roof of the pen, her head lying across her paws, like a cat asleep. By this they knew that others were confined inside, for whose escape this one was waiting. It was but a brief task for Jacob, who was a good marksman, to point his rifle through the window and give her its contents. Without a struggle the splendid animal straightened her powerful limbs and died. Reloading his gun, Jacob walked cautiously toward the pen, watching in every direction, lest there might be another one outside ready to spring upon him, but seeing none, he went up and peered through a crack.
At once two pairs of eyes flashed at him, and fierce growls remonstrated against the state of affairs.
Had Barnum flourished in those days, Jacob might have found a market for the animals alive, but as it was he regarded it safer to shoot them as quickly as possible, through a crevice between the logs.
Upon placing the dead animals side by side near the house he discovered that they were mother and full-grown kittens, all very large and plump, with thick, glossy fur.
I have only to add, that he was paid by the state a bounty of twenty-four dollars apiece for killing the panthers, which was quite a fortune for a pioneer in those days. Their red-brown skins, sewed together, made a larger and nicer lap-robe than the hide of any buffalo; and years after, with Jacob’s children, I took many a sleigh-ride under this warm covering.
All in favor of numbering Jacob among the “Wide Awakes,” say aye!
“Mitz” began to cry piteously. “Mieu—mieu—mi-e-e,” he cried, and all little Hannah’s trotting only made him worse. At that moment “Mitz” was wrapped in a pillow-case, while his head was buried in Hannah’s little shawl. His ears were pulled down, and his promising tail was all in a heap, and his resplendent moustache was crushed. Therefore was it a wonder that Mitz howled most dolefully? It is not necessary to say that Mitz was a kitten.
Mitz’s mother was sitting in a corner of the fire-place, with tail neatly curled about her paws. Three of Mitz’s brothers and sisters were lost somewhere in the shadow about her, and two others the children had put to bed.