This is part 4 of a 5 part series. Please read the previous 3 posts by clicking the links below.
Once back inside the cabin the hiker sat back down on the bed and elevated his injured leg. “We’d better check under your bandage to make sure you ain’t got no infection.” The boy advised. It struck the hiker that for someone so young this boy was fairly mature. “Where are parents?” He asked. The boy hesitated and a look of sorrow fell across his face. The hiker immediately regretted asking the question so bluntly. “Pa took a load of his goods down river to sell or trade. He makes chairs and boxes and stuff from the lumber we harvest in the woods. He’s also got several bags of medicinal herbs that we gathered as well as some furs we trapped. He comes back with the stuff that we can’t make ourselves.” The hiker took a breath and asked about the boy’s mother. “She went out gather some herbs a few years ago but she never came back. We think that cat….” his voice dropped off before he could finish his statement but the hiker didn’t press the boy. A tear rolled down the boy’s boy’s cheek as he went to work removing the bandage. “Pa showed me that a deep wound like this one here shouldn’t be allowed to heal too fast. If it does it turns gangrenous and you have to take it off. He saw it in the war sometimes.” The hiker opted not to press on questions about the boy’s situation. The wound started to bleed a little as soon as the boy got it unwrapped. The boy noted that this was a good thing because it would help flush out any infection. The bandage though, was too blood soaked to be used again and the boy tossed it into the fire. “Wait here.” the boy instructed. He left the cabin for a moment and returned with a large square of very soft felt-like material. The boy explained that this was one of the resources his father traded down river. The felt was made from a mushroom that grew on trees and that his grandfather had brought the skill to work with it to the New World. The material was called Amadou and among other things it could be used for bandages. The boy placed the spongy pad on the wound and realized he had no way to secure it. No problem. There was plenty of stuff in his father workshed he could use to bind the Amadou over the wound. As he was returning with a ball of homemade twine he noticed that it was starting to get dusk and then he noticed something that made his blood run cold. A small log that had fallen across the ditch near the cabin was missing a patch of moss. Something had brushed against the log while he was in the workshed. He quickened his pace and bolted the door of the cabin with the heavy iron bar. He turned to see the hiker on the bed with Rex the hound curled up at feet. The hiker hadn’t noticed the boy’s panic. The boy knew that he had to finish binding the wound before they could do anything else and he manged to tie the last knot of his makeshift bandage when the warm glow of the sun faded in the waxed paper window. Rex whimpered slightly but soon began to growl. Just outside the door there was a baby’s crying followed by the scream of the Devil cat. Then there was an ominous moment of silence before cabin’s paper window was ripped away by a huge black paw. The opening was only large enough for the cat’s head to pass through easily and given enough time it would have wriggled itself into the cabin. The hiker was locked in a gaze with those lifeless yellowish green eyes as felt around the bed for a crutch to defend himself with. Time seemed to stand still as the two looked at each other but the tension was broken by the long bay of Rex as he lunged at the huge black cat. The loyal hound had his jaws locked on the cat’s neck as he thrashed his head from side to side. The awkward position of the Devil cat stuck partially in the window made it impossible for a full swipe of claws giving Rex the advantage for the moment. Eventually the Panther manged to escape Rex’s grip and withdrew from the opening but Rex would give no quarter and dove through the broken window frame in pursuit. The boy and the hiker could only listen in shock as they listened to Rex’s voice baying out through the night as he chased the Devil cat up river. They sat in the firelight most of night. Occasionally they would hear Rex bay, bark and growl and then the sound of animals locked in combat but eventually the night became silent. The boy manged to find enough wood to cover the broken window securely and both he and the hiker went to sleep wondering if they would see Rex again.
Thank you for joining me on this series Friends. Tomorrow night we’ll see the close of the Lost Trail Incident and all the loose ends will be tied up. But until then be blessed throughout your days.
Proceed to part 5
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