Theodore Roosevelt (18581919). Theodore Roosevelts Letters to His Children. 1919.
108. THE LONE CAT OF THE CAMP
Stamboul, La., Oct. 13, 1907.
When we shifted camp we came down here and found a funny little wooden shanty, put up by some people who now and then come out here and sleep in it when they fish or shoot. The only living thing around it was a pussy-cat. She was most friendly and pleasant, and we found that she had been living here for two years. When people were in the neighborhood, she would take what scraps she could get, but the rest of the time she would catch her own game for herself. She was pretty thin when we came, and has already fattened visibly. She was not in the least disconcerted by the appearance of the hounds, and none of them paid the slightest attention to her when she wandered about among them. We are camped on the edge of a lake. This morning before breakfast I had a good swim in it, the water being warmer than the air, and this evening I rowed on it in the moonlight. Every night we hear the great owls hoot and laugh in uncanny fashion.
Here we are in camp. It is very picturesque, and as comfortable as possible. We have a big fly tent for the horses; the hounds sleep with them, or with the donkeys! There is a white hunter, Ben Lily, who has just joined us, who is a really remarkable character. He literally lives in the woods. He joined us early this morning, with one dog. He had tramped for twenty-four hours through the woods, without food or water, and had slept a couple of hours in a crooked tree, like a wild turkey.
He has a mild, gentle face, blue eyes, and full beard; he is a religious fanatic, and is as hardy as a bear or elk, literally caring nothing for fatigue and exposure, which we couldn't stand at all. He doesn't seem to consider the 24 hours' trip he has just made, any more than I should a half hour's walk before breakfast. He quotes the preacher Talmage continually.
This is a black belt. The people are almost all negroes, curious creatures, some of them with Indian blood, like those in "Voodoo Tales." Yesterday we met two little negresses riding one mule, bare-legged, with a rope bridle.
I just loved your letter. I was so glad to hear from you. I was afraid you would have trouble with your Latin. What a funny little fellow Opdyke must be; I am glad you like him. How do you get on at football?
A small boy here caught several wildcats. When one was in the trap he would push a box towards it, and it would itself get into it, to hide; and so he would capture it alive. But one, instead of getting into the box, combed the hair of the small boy!
We have had no luck with the bear; but we have killed as many deer as we needed for meat, and the hounds caught a wildcat. Our camp is as comfortable as possible, and we have great camp fires at night.
One of the bear-hunting planters with me told me he once saw a bear, when overtaken by the hounds, lie down flat on its back with all its legs stretched out, while the dogs barked furiously all around it.