Dusk was slipping quickly over
the countryside and Enrique was trying to cover the area out of the little
town of Tonkawa to his own home before dark. The horse he rode was
not bred for speed but, on the other hand, it wasn't exactly a plow horse
either. He was comfortable with the animal being able to cover the
distance easily. In order to save time he dropped away from the well
traveled road and began to follow the winding country lane,
which followed along the twisting and turning Salt Fork River. Most of the
way was fairly open spaces with well cleared farm land on both sides of
the dusty, sandy trail like passage. At some places the banks of the river
dropped off into a deep dredged out cliff. In these areas his horse was
nervous and wall eyed, but still Enrique was able to continue with not too
The last leg of his trip would
cause him to have to necessarily pass through the heavily timbered
land that was the beginning of their property. There was little more than
a path there. Already, dark night was upon this land because of the
heavy overhanging of branches from the trees.
All at once his horse was
tossing his head, pulling up and refusing to respond to the man's effort
to urge him forward.
Enrique spoke gently to the animal. "Easy, Easy."
"Come on now." "What is the matter, old
boy?" Enrique worked with the horse and was able to settle him
down and they continued on through the woods.
"I know you are not
liking these timber lands." "I can't say I feel too easy
about going through here either." "It isn't too much
farther now." "Just a short distance and we are
As if to make matters worse
the hooting of an old horned owl called out. As the bird make a soft
whirring noise while he dropped out of a tree for a mouse or small animal
this was certainly not the best thing to happen. Enrique uttered a sigh of
relief as the horse was apparently willing to accept this little bit of a
spook and was holding to the cleared path at his feet. Enrique could look
forward and see a small break in the trees ahead and also a glimpse of
With this tunnel view he knew
he only had a little way to travel. It was not at all the best part of the
trail though, since to his left side there was a rise in the land creating
a shallow wall. This only increased the lowered visibility. Enrique
was very uneasy. His home had been Mexico where there were no such
territories like this. Unfamiliarity to the feel of the terrain gave
him a deep apprehension equal to that of the horse he was working to
control. He knew his wife and children would be awaiting his return
and it was such a short distance to the house. He felt if he could just
manage the skittery animal for only a little while longer he would be past
the worst part of his journey.
Again the horse began to act
up, and this time there was no urging him forward. Enrique was
almost to the place where he was going to dismount and lead what he felt
was just a very stubborn animal. Before he was able to get off the horse
there was such a blood curdling scream coming from his left side at the
top of the wall like rise he felt literally the hair raise on the back of
his neck. The scream sounded like the desperate shrill cry of a
woman in mortal terror.
It was so shattering a cry the
horse that had been all but stopping was now in panicked run away. Enrique
turned to look toward the rise and he was able to see the black shape of a
large cat easily loping along keeping up with the speeding horse.
The animal kept up pace with the horse seeming to be in a race with the
animal. The distance to the edge of the woods was just ahead and
Enrique was desperately hoping the racing horse would arrive there before
the cat had an opportunity to lunge down upon them.
Now, as he related the story
to his wife he was incredulous as to the cry the animal had made.
"I don't know what it was."
"You just out ran a big
cat." "A black panther." "A Mountain Lion."
"They follow the river on the way to the mountains."
"We don't see them often, but once in a while, they do come
through." His wife explained to her very shaken husband.
"I know one thing for
sure." "I have never heard a cry like that before."
"I don't care if I never hear it again." Enrique had made
up his mind the short cut from town through the dark, thick, timbered land
was not going to be his choice for a short cut ever again.
"You know Lizzie,"
Enrique spoke to his wife after they were in bed, since he was still
thinking of his experience. "You know Lizzie, that was a
devil cat." "I'm sure of it."
"Go to sleep now."
"It was just a Mountain Lion going through, that is all."
Lizzie turned over to sleep an unworried rest, and was true to her Native