A Knotted Tail!

Jud was in trouble! At the moment he, his pa, and several of their neighbors were hunting a cougar that had been wreaking havoc on their livestock.

The last straw had been when it killed their best sow. It happened during the middle of the night. They were awakened by the pig’s squeal and the cat’s scream. By the time they got to the pigpen, it was too late. The sow was laying on her side, blood was everywhere, and her piglets were frantically scurrying about. She had a big chunk chewed out of one of her ham hocks. He and his pa had dragged her to the fire and salvaged what they could. His pa had shook his head with disgust. The odds of the litter surviving, without their mother’s milk, were slim.

At daybreak, they saddled up and went to the settlement. They had gone to the church and rang the bell. Several men came running thinking there was trouble. The bell was not only used for church services, it was also used in case of danger. His pa had explained what had happened and had asked for help.

“Who’s going with me? We have to stop that cat. Iffen we don’t none of us will have any critters left,” he had asked.

Several men raised their hands. They had gone home for their rifles and hounds. Meeting back at the church, they followed Jud and his pa home. There they turned the dogs loose.

The dogs immediately picked up the cat’s scent and raced off into the woods. The men had a pretty good idea where it was headed. In the distance was a mountain that was honeycombed with caves. It was the perfect place for a cat to have a den.

They had followed the scent trail to a hole in the mountain’s side. It was all the men could do to hold the dogs back. They knew the cat would kill the dogs if given a chance.

The men made crude torches and entered the cave. They encountered passageways branching off in several directions. Jud, his pa, and a couple of neighbors started down a narrow passage. The further they went they discovered they were on the right track. They began finding bones everywhere.

They rounded a corner and could hear growling ahead. His pa told him to hunker down by the cavern wall. As he leaned against the wall he could feel a small hole. Sticking his hand into it all he felt was open space. He settled back and waited for his pa.

All of a sudden he heard shouts and gunfire. He heard his pa shout, “There it goes in that hole!”

Jud strained his ears trying to hear what was going on. He could hear slight movement on the other side of the wall.

“It has to be the cat!” he thought.

Terrified, he could hear the heavy breathing of something there. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a nose and whiskers come through the hole. It withdrew and took a couple of steps. That’s when Jud did it!

Until the day he died, he couldn’t tell you why he did it. But he’s glad he did! He reached through that hole and grabbed its tail. Pulling it through the hole, he quickly jerked a knot in it. The cat went berserk! It screamed and lunged and came to a screeching halt. That knot in its tail kept it from pulling its tail through the hole. It was caught!

His pa and the men came running. Their jaws dropped when they saw what Jud had done.

“Boy! What did you do?” asked his pa.

“I jerked a knot in its tail!”

At that very moment, a phrase was coined that would be used by hundreds of people in the future.

“I’ll a jerk knot in your tail!

July 8, 2022