I stood up and looked at my stinging, bleeding hands, and wet trousers and as I did, I heard the most horrible scream up on the ridge behind me, something awful and hideous and blood-chillin’-horrible in the gathering darkness. The cat was following me and he wanted me to know it.

I was gosh-awful scared, the first time I really new what terror was. I thought to myself that I would not likely get much older than I was. He would make me look like that possum soon. I thought of leaving the furs there. But I couldn’t do that. We were so poor, and Pop needed those furs.

I rounded the mouth of the creek and began to run as hard as I could run, dodging brush and trees, back up through the wooded bottomland.  I was a mile north of my home. I could feel that cat behind me, and as fast as I ran, I knew he was much faster than me. I would never make it!

I had my skinning knife, and I figured that before he got me I could sink my knife blade somewhere in that killer. I did some praying like I never did before, as I raced up across the bank into the little clearing. I promised God I would do better at being 12 than I had done whilst I was 11.

The praying helped keep my mind off of what it would feel like to get eaten, but I knewI’d soon feel his claws and teeth ripping me apart. In my imagination could hear his rapid footsteps. Truthful, I don’t know if he was ever there, but that night you couldn’t have convinced me he wasn’t.

Then I could see the lantern light through the windows of the cabin before me, and finally I flung open the door to fall down by the stove, exhausted and bleeding. Mom fussed over me and washed my skinned places and wrapped me in a blanket.

Pop told me it took some intestinal fortitude to do what I had done. He had learned that term from one of those western magazines Mom’s folks had brought him.  And he was amazed at the sackful of furs, bragging on me somethin’ awful. I felt proud to have contributed so much. But I wasn’t near as proud as I was happy to be alive, there in our little home on the Big Piney.

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