Short Stories » On Wolf Mountain
On Wolf Mountain - Page 3 of 7
"My steers, I reckon, '11 find plenty of warm places for shelter," he remarked to his man. ' I kinder expect that some of my cows 'll suffer ; but the worst of it is the wolves -confound them ! The brutes been howling last night and again this cvenin' from pretty nigh every hill-top. They do say, too, as that's a sure sign of storm!"
The long log-cabin creaked dismally under the blast, and the windward windows were soon coated with snow.
' What's that, Jake ? Sounds like a lamb bleating," the worried rancher continued.
Jake forcibly pushed open the rude door and listened attentively.
' There is some trouble at the sheep-sheds, but I can't tell just what 'tis. May be only the wind rattling the loose boards," he suggested, uncertainly.
' I expect a grizzly has got in among the sheep, but I'll show him that he is at the wrong door," exclaimed Hank Simmons, with grim determination. "Get your rifle, Jake, and we'll teach whoever or whatever it may be that we are able to take care of our stock in night and storm as well as in fair weather !'
He pushed the door open and gazed out into the darkness in his turn, but he could not see a foot over the threshold. A terrific gust of wind carried a pall of snow into the farthest corner of the cabin. But Hank was a determined fellow, and not afraid of hardship. He would spend a night in the sod stable to watch the coming of a calf, rather than run even a small chance of losing it.
Both men got into their cowhide over- coats and pulled their caps well down over their ears. Rifle in hand, they proceeded towards the sheep-corral in single file, Jake carrying the lantern. The lambs were bleating frantically, and as they approached the premises they discovered that most of the sheep were outside.
"Keep your finger on the trigger, Jake! All the wolves in the Big Horn Mountains are here!" exclaimed Hank, who was a few paces in advance.
Had they been inexperienced men - - but they were not. They were both men of nerve. "Bang! bang!" came from two rifles, through the frosty air and blinding snow.
But the voice of the guns did not have the demoralizing effect upon which they had counted. Their assailants scarcely heard the reports for the roar of the storm. Undaunted by the dim glow of the lantern, they banded together for a fresh attack. The growling, snarling, and gnashing of teeth of hundreds of great gray wolves at close quarters were enough to dismay even Hank Simmons, who had seen more than one Indian fight and hair-breadth adventure.
"Bang! bang!" they kept on firing off their pieces, now and then swinging the guns in front of them to stay the mad rush of the wild army. The lantern - light revealed the glitter of a hundred pairs of fierce' eyes and shining rows of pointed teeth.
Hank noticed a lean, gray wolf with one eye and an immense head who was fore- most in the attack. Almost abreast of him was a young wolf, whose great size and bristling hair gave him an air of ferocity.
" Hold hard, Jake, or they'll pick our bones yet!" Hank exclaimed, and the pair began to retreat. They found it all they could do to keep off the wolves, and the faithful collie who had fought beside them was caught and dragged into darkness. At last Hank pushed the door open and both men tumbled backward into the cabin.