* * * * Spring again returned, and with all its beauties. The snow had left the prairies, and nature, as if gladdened at the sight, seemed to urge the young plants forward, as if endeavoring to make each outstrip its competitors. The ice had left the brooks, and no longer hung in festooned garlands, from vine and twig ; here and there a bright green leaf had started forth, as if endeavoring to gasp in its yet half closed cup, the balmy air that fanned it. All seemed glad. It was such a morning as makes a hunter happy, and return thanks to an all-wise Creator for endowing him with a world so beautiful, and a heart to enjoy it. It was such a morning, in the latter part of the month of April, that H----- and myself were seated upon the porch, enjoying our cigars after breakfast, that MAC. rushed into our yard, and informed us that Mr. B----- was crossing the prairie, with eight or ten hounds after him.

Tom B---- is a character not only peculiar to Arkansas, but many parts of the West. He is honest in everything but a horse trade, and in that, I believe, he would cheat his own mother. He says its his "natur, improved a little by practice, and he can't help it." In a few minutes he reached the gate, and came in.

"Well, Tom, how are you ?" and the customary shaking of hands took place.

"Well, Leftenants, I guess you thought I never was coming to take a hunt. But here I am now, with the finest dogs I could raise in Washington County, and a leetle of the sleekest hos."

"Newnan, put Mr. B's horses up, and see them well cleaned. And Mac, make Mr. B. a stiff, hot whiskey toddy."

"That's the idee, exactly," said Tom. "Well, Leftenants, I heard you killed a bar some time ago. Maybe I would like to 'a seen that. When I lived on the Red River, I tell you, I used to make 'em squat. Capt. STEVE (or Stine) was a young man then, and one day come over to spend a week with me. Next mornin, as the niggers was ploughing, we heard the tarnallist yelling you ever did heaer. I looked over the fence, and about 300 yards off there was the biggest bar I ever clapped my eyes on, and the niggers cutting dirt. Capt. Steve was off with his rifle into a lane about 300 yards from the cabin, which he calculated the bar would cross--and sure enough, he did--and spang he took him ! The bar made right after him, and if ever you see'd tall walking, that was the time. One minit he was in the lane, and before I winked my eye, he was standing on the porch with me. The bar died tryin to get over the fence !"

"That's a tolerable yarn, Tom; so here's your health. Eat your breakfast, and join us at the billiard room. I suppose you will be down soon, to trade or sell the horse you led in."

"Nobody gets that hos, now, I can tell you. He's be Leviathan, out of a mare by Black Whip, and I'm d--d if any body gets him short of 300. I Secretary BELL to the contrary, notwithstanding. Tom soon joined us, mounted bought him to knock all your wolf horses into a Dutch fit."

"We'll see. Come down soon."

We proceeded to the billiard room, where we found a knot of officers assembled, and spent an hour or so in playing and talking politics--the order of Mr. on his sorrel, prancing and cavorting in fine style.

"How dye do, gentlemen ? how dye do ?" said Tom, riding up. "This hos aint for sale, gents, so you nenedn't make an offer. You can look at him, tho,' and examin his pints, and ride him, if any of you is a mind to risk it--not that he's vicious at all, but awfully sperited."

"How much do you ask for him ?" said a Captain standing by.

"Now Capting, I know you're a judge, but he aint for sale. I bought him to beat H. and P. wolf hunting on. But, look at him, I tell you, he is a beauty. Did you ever see such a hock, and stifle ? And look at his shoulder ? that's a pattern for a shoulder, I take it--and then his head and neck ! But its no use talking, he aint for sale !" [1]

"Well, Tom, when you get through showing off your horse, come to our quarters, and we will arrange things for a hunt to-morrow."

Between our duties and other employments, the day passed swiftly and pleasantly, and evening found us with a merry party, seated at a table, revelling in the pleasure of a game of poker. Our friend Tom soon joined us, and looked on, seemingly much surprised at the amount won and lost in a few minutes.

"Well, gents, that's faster than I can make money. But live and learn. So give us a hand. The only difficulty is one can't keep it."

Tom was soon seated, and "passed" and "passed" until it seemed as if he never intended to bet. At last, some one says, "I bet fifty." "I see it," says Tom--"and I," "and I," went round--"and I, and ten better,"--"I'm off,"--"I'll go it," said Tom,--"I'm off." "Twenty better," said Tom. "I call." "Full--Kings and fives. I rake her down, but don't snatch," said Tom, highly delighted with his luck. At a late hour the game broke up. Tom busied himself assorting his money, and offered what he'd won from each, back again. They were surprised of course, and refused to have it.

"What !" said Tom, "why Leftenants, was you really playing for keep."

Tom knew that they were all the time, and I pity the man that takes him for a soft snap at this game, or "brag."

"What will you try your dogs at, to-morrow, Tom ?"

"Why, Leftenants, you see they never even so much as smelt a wolf, I don't believe. I know they'll run a fox to all creation, but I want to see a wolf hunt. I know you'll think meanly of them in the start ; but they'll be somewhere at the end of a mile, now mind I tell you."

"A wolf hunt be it. We'll put you at a stand to-morrow, and you can shoot one. Have you had any Quarter Racing lately ?"

"Maybe I haven't--I just laid 'em out cold as a whetstone--seized their pile, and took it. You remember the Spanish filly I had here last Fall. Well, I was down at the vineyard one day, and I heerd two fellers talking as how, if they could git her, they'd try her speed. When I gits home, I slaps two lead shoes, about two pound weight on her, one on the right forefoot, and 'tother on the right hind foot, and leaves the stable door open. Sure enough, here they come, that night, an steals her out and takes her to the track. Well, in course, they beat her bad. Next mornin' they come with a $400 banter. I took 'em up in two or three days, and they had me, by their calculating, sure. I felt about nine hundred dollars, and let out their faces considerable."

"After that long speech, can't you give us a song, Tom, and then we'll go to bed."

"A song ! I ain't much of a musical character, but if you do really want, I'll give it to you."

"Let us hear it by all means."

"I larnt this song when I was a courting. It's one of the sentimental breed :--

"Pretty Polly, pretty Polly, your daddy is rich,
And I have no fortin, that troubles me mich ;
Will you leave your old daddy and mammy allso,
An' round the wide world with your darling boy go.
Hay diddle, diddle, hey diddle, diddle,
Hay diddle, diddle, de day."

"There ! there ! for God's sake stop, Tom--don't give us any more. Go to bed if you have nothing better than that."

"That's all I have of it, so you can't get any more. Tell a feller what you're going to do to-morrow, so I may be up by time."

"You recollect our telling you of a wolf that has given us the slip two or three times down in the canebrake. We lose him exactly in the same place--I think if you can put two or three buck shot in him, we can save him this time. We will call you about daylight--so good night."

At daybreak we were all ready. We took twenty of our dogs, and eight of Tom's. We were armed, each with a double barrel gun, loaded with buckshot,--pistols and bowie knife we took also, in case we should start a bear.

Passing in rear of the garrison, we crossed a bridge, and striking into a road that led to the canebrake, soon reached it.

This canebrake, though not a large one, is very thick, and only accessible [2] in many places, to dogs, wolves, bear, &c. It has a road running into it here and there, formed by wagons, hauling out rails, clapboards, and other building materials. In one of these we stationed Tom. I took my stand in what had formerly been the bed of a lake. H. put the dogs in about half a mile from us, and we anxiously waited to hear them. Half an hour elapsed before we heard any thing from them, when at last the note of a hound, indistinctly heard, but so far off that we could not distinguish which dog it was, roused us from the recumbent position into which we had fallen, and told us the game was afoot. Soon the whole pack was in full cry, and it was seldom those wilds had evver been disturbed by such music. The wolf took an entirely different course from what we anticipated. He struck directly for Grand River, distant about a mile, and passing along its banks, passed far below us, without giving us a chance of a shot. The sound of the hounds was heard no more, and all again was as silent as the grave. An hour and a half passed by, and, supposing they had struck down the Arkansas, and made for Menard Mountain, I was about mounting my horse to go home, when I again heard them coming up the lake. Immediately before coming in sight, I heard Tom's gun--I thought he must certainly have fired at something else, for the dogs were at least a mile and a half from him. I jumped on my horse, and reached there before the dogs. There was Tom, yelling at the top of his voice, "I give him hell, Leftenant, as sure as a gun !--Look here !"

I looked, and a stream of blood told he was badly hit, but not killed.

"I tell you, Leftenant, he made the canebrake shake as he passed along. I've often heerd tell of a wolf holloaing when he's shot, but I never knew it afore. He went like a whipsaw through a log."

"Here come the dogs, Tom,--keep well off his trail, for if Music's in the lead, she'll mount you to a certainty."

In a few moments the dogs passed, and what a yell they gave as they snufed the wolf's warm blood. Tom's dogs were well up, and gave tongue finely. He urged them on, and they soon passed, and made for where he had first started,--"I never should 'a got a shot at the devil, had you not told me 'bout the birds. I heard the dogs about two miles off, I thought, and was sitting down. At last I see some robin fly up out of the cane, and, thinks I, that may be him. Sure enough, I had hardly stepped behind this tree, and cocked the gun, when out he hopped right in the road. I believe the devil smelt me, for he stopped, and looked right towards me. I let him have it right in the peepers, and maybe he didn't jump."

"We shan't get another shot to-day;--so mount, and we'll go after them." We were soon spurring up the road, where we met H-----.

"I saw him, and he's not 200 yards ahead of the dogs, and bleeding like a pig. None of his legs are broken, however, and, as he still runs strong, he may give us a long chase yet,--I never saw the dogs run better. It is the same wolf, I am certain, that we have seen so often."

He still kept going, and it was an hour and a half before the dogs came to a stand, and it was directly on the bank of a small bayou, about forty feet wide, where we had lost him before. Upon reaching it, we found the dogs completely at a loss ; some were in the water, some on the opposite side, and others were making a wide cast in the cane. We hunted for half an hour, and left not a leaf or foot of ground unhunted. Disgusted, we threw ourselves upon the ground, and waited until every dog came in. Old Harry was the last to give it up.

"Well, Tom, I am sorry for it, but here's the bottle ; fill up, and drink to 'better luck next time.'"

"Leftenants, I could cry ! I was calculating to take that feller's scalp home with me. I'd rather have it than a ten dollar Arkansas bill--for I can pay my taxes with one, and I can't with t'other."

Tom by this time had taken his drink, and laid upon his belly to drink from the bayou. Before his lips touched the water, however, he fixed his eyes upon a bunch of matted vines and leaves, that had drifted upon the top of a small sapling that had fallen in the water, and gazed upon it intently.

"Tar and feather me, boys, if I didn't see two bright eyes looking at me ! Where's my gun ?"

"Hold, Tom !--don't shoot ! I'll ride in and clear the brush away, and will see how your dogs fight as well as swim," said C.

"High on ! my dogs,--high on," said C., rushing in and seizing the vines. The dogs all followed, and the wolf, refreshed by his rest, made a strong dash for the opposite bank. He was too late, for Music seized him, and they sunk together. They soon arose, when Harry grappled with him. The rest all joined in the fight, and they soon killed him. We got him ashore, and examined his wounds. Three shot only had taken effect. One struck him in the mouth, and knocked out one of his tusks, passing through his tongue, and out of the side of his neck ; another had passed through one of his ears, and another had cut a large vein upon one of his hind legs. He was of the largest species of woods wolf, and, although he labored under such disadvantages, he managed to punish some of the dogs "pretty considerable," as Tom afterward said.

Tom was highly delighted with the performance of his dogs, and the day's sport together. Hauling the wolf into the road, where Mac could easily find him, we started home, where we did not find a good breakfast, for our old cook, Mul., was in as glorious a state of inebriety as an Irishman could become upon Old Rye.

Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, Feb. 21, 1844.

Notes: New York Spirit of the Times 14.2 (9 March 1844): 19. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original omits final quotation mark.

[2] "Accessable" in original.

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