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"Deuce take me if it isn't a wild man!" Wilson interposed. "He got him from the Cash Swamps; Prince has been after him twice, but couldn't catch him. Well, have you got anything else to see?"
"Plenty more," said the little Frenchman, "but not to-day. To-morrow an exhibition; all will be in order then." "A-uh-ih!" the catamount then put in a word.
"Seize him!" the old hunter shouted almost instinctively; and the dogs, which had been hardly kept back, now flew at the den, and pulled down the curtain, but met with such a violent reception both from the beast's claws and the Frenchman that they fell back.
So soon as order was restored the men of the menagerie were ordered to build a fence round the show to keep the dogs at bay, while Wilson and Stewart, finding that M. Bernard was not disposed to show them any more sights, returned to the hotel. The evening's conversation turned exclusively on the strange collection of traps, and wondering queries as to the reason the Frenchman had come to Francisville. The general supposition was, that he displayed the catamount for the purpose of getting orders to catch others in the vicinity. The next day the neighbors came flocking in; and at three in the afternoon M. Bertrand appeared before the gaping audience, and put up a huge bill at the door of the show. In a few minutes a crowd collected round it, and the best scholar among them discovered that it was a menagerie, which monsieur had brought there to show them.
“Hurrah for Bertrand!" they shouted; "he is a fine fellow!" and they were just going to rush in when Wilson, who had been carefully inspecting the bill, to see whether there was anything in it about eating and drinking, suddenly noticed the prices of admission, and held them back by a loud cry of surprise.
"Bless me, bhoys!" he said, pointing to the ominous words, "it costs something to see the traps!"
"Cost!" they all shouted, incredulously. "What can it cost? we'll treat him to the best we have; so come along, bhoys."
"C'est vrai, monsieur," the Frenchman replied, with a pleasant smile, glad of the opportunity to praise his show. "It's all in order, a quarter-dollar admission, to see and admire the menagerie. Very little."
"So, we're to pay a quarter-dollar admission, for seeing very little?" an old backwoodsman, who had been regarding the stranger with unfeigned astonishment, remarked: "hang me if that ain't cool! Comes here, puts up his tent in our town, and then, instead of acting like a neighbor, asks a quarter-dollar, merely to pass his threshold! Mark me, bhoys, strangers are getting to something!"
"But there's a great deal to see, monsieur," the little man interposed. "A monkey, a catamount, four little monkeys, an African leopard, and a lama, all for a quarter-dollar. The beasts eat a great many quarter-dollars."
"Eat quarter - dollars?" the old man said, his eyes and mouth visibly expanding; "did a Christian ever hear such a thing? the Frenchman feeds his beasts with quarter-dollars!"
A long explanation was necessary before M. Bertrand could make them understand the reason of his demand; but none were willing to expend a quarter-dollar, payable in skins, before they knew what the show looked like, and M. Bertrand, strongly suspecting the money would not be forthcoming afterward, proposed to show the marvels of his menagerie gratis to two persons, and then leave it to them to pay their admission, if they thought it worth the money. The proposition was unanimously accepted, and the old squatter and the judge of the nearest township were chosen. The Frenchman led them in, and they remained there half an hour, those without only hearing now and then the growling of the animals and a loud exclamation of surprise from the old squatter. At length the canvas parted, and the depntation emerged with signs of amazement. The squatter thus took the word :
"Gentlemen! here is my cap; you have fairly earned it, mossu; for I'll be hanged if it don't beat cock-fighting. A quarter-dollar? I'd walk ten miles to see such a sight; and you know I wouldn't do that for a quarter-dollar."
The audience began asking a thousand questions, to which they could get no satisfactory reply; the old fellow's head was
most difficult matter to make some of them pay. He therefore politely bowed out the last persons in the show, and began fastening up the canvas to cut off any further communication with the outside for this evening. But in this he soon found himself mistaken.
"Halloo!" shouted a new band of young fellows, who just at that moment rode into the settlement; "halloo, bhoys! where's the beasts? Out with 'em; here's the children who want to see them."
"The steamer has just started, gentlemen!" said one of the mob. "You're a day after the fair; fireworks can't be let off twice."
"Halloo, Miles! who's dead, and what's to pay?"
"The shop's shut up, gentlemen, and the key fallen overboard."
"Confound the key! if the door's still there this child will get in. So, bhoy, take my horse and look after him, or I'll hang you up by the ears."
full of wild men of the woods; and so the backwoodsmen ran back to the hotel, packed up some of the goods they had brought in to barter, and flocked to the menagerie. The Frenchman did a roaring trade during the afternoon, for the repugnance to pay was now removed, and the squatters went in, not once, but three or four times, to see "the wild beast company." When they came out they had so much to say about the wonders that every new comer must pay a visit too, and M. Bertrand had his hands full of his strange circulating medium, of which, however, he knew the full value as a trader. The only topic of conversation among the visitors was the chimpanzee, which they insisted was a " Wild Man of the Woods;" for it is curious that the rumor of men having been lost in the woods and grown wild is still kept up in the western forests of America, although such a thing hardly ever takes place. After the report has died away for months it will break out again; some hunter or the other asserts that he has found his track, and followed him to his lair in some mountain cave. The most terrible stories are then told of "former captives," how they defended themselves with their teeth, and how Bill's father, or Jim's grandfather, in a settlement, had almost risked their life against the terrific strength of the little creatures, so that at last they were obliged to kill them in self-defense, and could never get hold of one alive. However, the audience could not come to any agreement about the tail of the chimpanzee, until at last Stewart settled the difficulty by offering to make a bet that the wild men were certainly related to the Jenkinses, for they all had such precious long backs that | they could easily grow into tails. This "Pardon, messieurs," was the reply; solution appeared so probable that no one "not this evening; monkeys very tired dared to take the bet. to-night; had so many visitors."
As I have said M. Bertrand did an excellent trade; but at last, when some of the visitors had made several applications to the whisky-bottle, they would not be satisfied with merely secing, but began teasing the animals, and shaking the monkeys' cages till the poor brutes, in their terror, sprang up to the bars, and by gnashing their teeth and making comic gestures created an intense amusement among the wild visitors. M. Bertrand found it was high time to terminate his exhibition, more especially as it became a
"Joking on one side, Ned Holly," the other remarked, to tease him, "the exhibition is over, the ladies and gentlemen are all gone home, and the candles are blown out."
"Hurrah, bhoys, who'll follow ?" the first speaker shouted. "I'll be darned if I go to bed till I've seen the beasts. Let's climb over the fence, and show them to ourselves."
No great amount of persuasion was requisite to induce the intoxicated and curious portion of the company to follow. Marching in a compact body, and accompanied by a number of the former visitors, to the Frenchman's tent, who received them with his usual unswerving politeness, they demanded admittance.
Monkey be hanged!" exclaimed the leader. "We want to see your wild man, old boy; so cut asunder the canvas there, or else we'll run it down."
"No admission to-day, messieurs," the Frenchman replied, standing in their way; "no admission. I must go and fetch the justice of the peace if you use force. I am here in my house."
"O, go to grass with your house!" the first speaker, a coarse, savage fellow, exclaimed; and, hurling the Frenchman on one side, he pulled out his knife, and with
(for he had been telling on the road how a wild man had once served him, and re
insult ;)" he'd take you and throw you over the fence into the middle of next week. You flog the wild man!"
"Ned," the other here shouted, "if I can't flog the panther and the wild man together, may I never shoulder a rifle again. Pooh! I'll bet ten quarters that the cripple can't even settle that miserable catamount.”
"Hurrah! that's a bet, Ned!" the crowd shouted.
one blow cut through the cords which prevented entrance. With one bound he then reached the interior, and all the rest fol-garded this boast in some measure as an lowed him, in spite of the violent protestations of the stranger, who was thus insulted. But although the better-thinking persons saw clearly that what had happened could not be altered, still they did not wish that the stranger should be treated unjustly upon their own ground, and demanded that the men who had forced their way in should at any rate pay the price of admission. At first the Frenchman refused to take anything, and insisted on asserting his own rights; but when he found that he would not be able to effect this, he put up with the admission-money, on condition that they should only stop half an hour and indeed by that time it would be dark. As several of the new comers had brought silver money with them, to pay their lawyers the next day, and were not at all in a condition to haggle about the price, M. Bertrand was soon perfectly satisfied, and began his description again for the fiftieth time.
Like the former visitors, the present company only cared for the chimpanzee; they even scarce deigned to pause at the "spotted panther," until, on one of them asserting it was painted, another wetted his finger, and thrust his arm through the bars to stroke the leopard. But he was speedily induced to draw back, for the brute sprang round like lightning, and tore his sleeve and arm up, as a solemn protest against any experiment about the nature of his spots.
"He is painted for all that!" said the wounded man, holding his arm and looking boldly at the animal, though from a respectful distance; "and if I only had him out here I would prove it with my fists in his blackguard face."
"Gentlemen!" Ned Holly now shouted, above the laughter and noise, which seemed each moment to increase, "this is really a man of the woods, for I met one of them up at White River once, which looked exactly like it. You have no idea how strong such a poor-looking brute really is." "And I can flog the spotted panther and the dirty wild man in the bargain," said the intoxicated man, who had now bound his handkerchief round his arm; "let him out, that we may stand man to man, the scratching brute!"
"All right," Ned replied. "Bhoys, ten quarters that the wild man chaws up the catamount and picks his teeth with the tail. So now bring them to the scratch."
"Gentlemen!" the Frenchman now interposed, "the half hour's up. I must request you to go home and keep the peace."
"All right, old hoss!" said Ned, giving him such a slap on the back that his knees cracked again; "but we must have the fight first. Shall we let them out here, or how shall we manage ?" he continued, without paying the slightest attention to the owner of the brutes. "Hand me an ax to open the cages."
"Gentlemen!" shouted the Frenchman, now really alarmed, and springing between the men, who were just pushing forward the cages of the catamount and the chimpanzee, "let it be, that is my property. You must not lay hands on it."
"O, go to grass!" Ned said, contemptuously, and hurled him on one side. "We're not going to lay hands on your property; your property must settle it entirely between themselves. Now, bhoys, lend a hand here."
"Stop, stop, for Heaven's sake!" the Frenchman shouted. "Get back from the cage; if you open it the catamount will be off, and we shall never see it again, and five-and-twenty dollars will be gone for ever."
"I said so," shouted Ned-"I said so; and the catamount knows the wild man would chaw him up, so he shows the white feather. Give him a chance to bolt, and he'd never stop to look round till he got to Missouri."
"And that's all you know about it, I say, Bill," his opponent urged; "he might bolt, it is possible, but not from your cripple of a wild man, but because you make "You flog the wild man!" Ned shouted, row enough to frighten a room full of cata
mounts. Give him an honest fight, and I stick to it that he'll chaw up the wild man chock and block."
"Stop, bhoys," another backwoodsman remarked, "we can manage so that the beasts can fight and neither escape. When we push the two cages close together, the doors match, and if we open them they can pay each other a visit."
"That's a good idea; and now to work, bhoys, before it gets dark," Ned exclaimed; at the same time laying hold of one of the cages.
The Frenchman tried to prevent it, and called his people to his assistance, but the mob was against him; so he rushed over to the hotel, to inform the judge of the mad scheme afloat, and request his interference. But, as is too often the case, though the laws are excellent they cannot always be carried out in these wild parts. The judge had scarce got wind of the disturbance than he took a lawyer friend of his by the arm, and walked with him into the woods. He knew perfectly well that very little or nothing could be effected by force when these fellows took anything into their head, and was in no way disposed to make enemies unnecessarily, or perhaps expose himself to danger, so he walked off, and was not to be found. The constable had behaved just in the same way, and Bertrand, after being sent from pillar to post, at length perceived that he was at the mercy of a reckless mob, and determined on taking the law into his own hands.
In the meanwhile, a mad scene was going on in the poor Frenchman's booth. Bob had moved up the catamount's cage to the chimpanzee's, and the doors were just going to be dragged up, when some of the backwoodsmen interposed and tried to persuade the drunkards not to destroy the stranger's property so recklessly.
“Darn it," Ned said, roughly, "we paid the fellow our entrance money, and mean to have our fun for it. Besides, there's a bet to be settled, so clear the road!"
"Look out, Ned," a voice said at the moment. And as he turned round rapidly a gun was fired, and the charge passed so close by his head that he could hear the shot whistling. He had been in very considerable danger, for Bertrand, now maddened, had taken up his fowling-piece to shoot Ned, whom he regarded as the ringleader; and had he effected his purpose
no court would have condemned him. A friend of Ned's, however, struck the gun up and the Frenchman down at the same moment, and while a couple dragged away the senseless man to prevent more mischief, Ned exclaimed contemptuously, as he took up the gun,
"Confound his carcass, to shoot at a man with such a thing. I've a great mind to open all his traps. But we're losing time, bhoys; let's to work."
Throwing down the gun and pulling up the doors, in spite of all suggestions, he opened the communication, and all pressed silently round the cages to watch the result. The catamount seemed to have been terrified by the noise, for it cowered in a corner of the cage, rolling its eyes wildly at the surrounding crowd; while the chimpanzee sprang up and down the bars, and did not appear to notice that the door had been opened. For a while things remained in this position, but the crowd at last grew impatient, and Ned shouted:
"Seize him, old bhoy, seize him! If the wild man only knew a catamount was within arm's length of him he'd soon be at him."
"We will introduce the gentleman to him," said Bill, laughing, “and then he can have no excuse;" so he seized a stick and stirred up the cat. The brute moved angrily from its old position, and noticing that the door was opened, and probably presuming it was a means of escape, it glided through, and caused the chimpanzee no small terror, which it displayed by jumping up and down, while the catamount, on noticing that the cage was occupied, tried to retreat. But this the attentive Bob had already prevented by closing the door of its cage, and the cat, as if expecting an attack from the strange animal, retired into the furthest corner, evidently prepared for defensive operations.
"I'm darned if the wild man ain't the biggest coward I ever saw in my life," Ned shouted, angrily; "he's got a brute of a catamount before him and don't chaw him up. I believe his good heart won't let him do it; he thinks it would be murder."
"Seize him, catty, seize him!" Bill replied to the taunt; "catch him by the tail, and see what he's made of."
"Hu-pih!" the mob shouted, the dogs outside barked, while a couple of the fellows, who had committed all imaginable
crimes on the Indian frontier, uttered the murder. A loud shout of assent was the war-yell of the Choctaws.
"Seize him, you coward!" Ned now shouted, highly indignant at the backwardness of his animal, while he struck the bars violently. The monkey was frightened and let go its hold, but fell on the retreating catamount, and found itself closely embraced. The chimpanzee, in its terror, and being driven to extremities, seized the catamount in turn, and bit it severely over the left eye, so that it left its hold with a loud yell, and sprang into the other corner. It is impossible to describe the shouts which burst forth upon this, and whether the cat was driven to desperation by the pain or by the shouts just as the ape turned away instinctively to seek refuge above, the catamount made a bound, and while Ned cried, "Take care, Jimmy, take care, play fair," it sprang on the monkey's back from behind and dug its claws deeply in. The chimpanzee, however, one of the strongest of the monkey race, did not seem inclined to yield willingly, for while the cat was leaping upon it it turned half round and met it with open jaws. The catamount had by this time succeeded in getting a firm grip of its opponent's head, and hung on ruthlessly, however much the chimpanzee strove to liberate itself. Both fell to the ground, the chimpanzee being above, but the cat kept its grip, and as the poor wild man's strength gave way, it unexpectedly got the whole of the unhappy chimpanzee's head between its powerful jaws.
reply, and for a while nothing could be heard but cries of "Choose a jury !” “A judge!" "Murder!" "Hang him!" etc., until the chaos grew clearer, and Bob mounted on the empty cage and requested the company to choose a jury and commence proceedings. In a second twelve men presented themselves, some of whom Bill, who had constituted himself counsel for the defense, challenged. At length the number was complete, and though some of the more reasonable now interposed, and said enough mischief had been done, the whisky overpowered every sensible suggestion, and cries of "Silence in court!" Turn out the disturbers!" with imitations of the sheriff's "O yes! O yes!" proved the futility of their exertions. The wildest trial conceivable then began; the catamount was found guilty in less than ten minutes, in spite of Bill's brilliant defense, condemned to be hanged by the neck till it was "dead, dead, dead," and the only difficulty appeared to be how the . sentence should be carried into effect.
By this time evening had set in, and dry wood was brought to throw light on the square, but there was no tree to carry out the execution on the spot. They had not far to go, however; scarce twenty paces off was a clump of splendid oaks, to which the cage was dragged, with loud shouts. It was even more difficult to put the loop round the beast's neck, and then pull it out of the cage; but though the first was effected by means of a wooden fork, all attempts to drag the rope through the door, and then drive the catamount out, were lost labor. At last Bob succeeded in catching hold of the rope through the carefully-opened door of the cage, and he then secured it round the branch of the
"Enough, enough!" Ned shouted, for his animal; " enough, beast, that's false play; be off, let go!" And he thrust his stick into the catamount's side. But the latter held on with all its concentrated fury; the chimpanzee gradually relaxed its hold, and when the catamount was at The catamount was pulled out, and last compelled by repeated blows and hoping for a chance of escape swung its thrusts to retire, it left its enemy dead on claws round the rope, and began climbing the ground with its head quite crushed. up it. Some of the men were going to The confusion that now ensued was inde- fetch a pole to drive it down, but the madscribable; some shouted and rejoiced, dened brute began to throttle itself by while others raged, swore, and danced pulling at the rope, and at length fell down about the booth like madmen. Ned was lifeless to the full extent of the cord, and the most furious of all, and when he had then slowly revolved. These desperate deadened the shouts of the others by his men, after uttering a volley of shouts for own surpassing noise, he demanded justice the success of their justice, then proceeded for the wild man, who had been unfairly to the hotel, where they spent the night in attacked and murdered by the cat, and drinking. they must hold a trial over the catamount, which he herewith accused of deliberate
Stewart, from the commencement, had been on the Frenchman's side, and had