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Persimmon Jim: The Possum

Chapter 11
by Joseph Wharton Lippincott, 1924

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Persimmon Jim: The Possum  Intro    |    Preface    |    Ch. 1    |    Ch. 2    |    Ch. 3    |    Ch. 4    |    Ch. 5    |    Ch. 6    |    Ch. 7    |
                                              Ch. 8    |   
Ch. 9    |    Ch. 10    |    Ch. 11    |    Ch. 12    |    Ch. 13    |    Ch. 14    |    Ch. 15  |

Chapter 11: The Hunt

"YA-HOO!" yelled Ed Johnson from the edge of the woods. "Talk to him, Banjo! Go get him, boy!"Banjo and the other two answered with joyous yelps and were very proud of themselves.  Each smelled the tree trunk just to make sure they really had treed a 'possum and not a cat, then broke out again in excited baying. "Ya-hoo," yelled Ed as he ran up.

The first 'possum, however, which he saw in the moonlight was the stranger, who happened to be up a very small tree. Ed took hold of the trunk and shook so suddenly that she lost her grip and fell out. Instantly the hounds dashed for her, but Ed was the quicker, and snatching her up by the tail, swung her out of their reach.

"Ya-hoo,"he yelled, "that's one of them." He had a bag ready but did not have time to put her in, for down the next tree came Jim, climbing for all he was worth. Ed ran to head him off and the hounds dashed with him.

Jim stopped then and climbed again, up and up, to the very tip of the tree where the young one, almost scared stiff, was already clinging to the slender twigs. "Ya-hoo!  Two more of them!" yelled Ed gleefully. Yes, Jim was in the worst fix of his life!

Had the tree been a bigger one, the 'possums might have hidden in the branches, but in a little twenty foot persimmon sapling they had no chance to try any tricks.

Ed had a flashlight, and with this he now examined the two wild creatures. "Persimmon Jim, sure as I live!" he muttered excitedly to himself; "bigger than ever too.  Ya-hoo!"

Ed believed in going 'possum hunting in the right way. He carried no gun at night, relying instead upon his ability to climb after the game when treed. This method meant the bringing of the 'possums home alive so that they could be further fattened before being prepared for the table. Fat 'possum, stuffed with potatoes and onions and roasted brown was not a bit less tasty than little roast pig. Indeed Ed preferred it.

The first 'possum was pretending to be dead. He dropped her limp body into his sack, hung this on a low limb and then swung himself into the tree. Climbing was easy; he moved up fast, while below, the hounds crouched expectantly and watched him. Soon he was face to face with Jim, the biggest 'possum on Goose Creek, the one he had been hunting for years. His hand shook a little as he reached for that long thick tail so close above his head.

Would nothing happen to save the old warrior 'possum? He looked this way and that. He edged further out among the twigs and growled that famous rumbling bear growl of his. It made Ed think of all those fifty teeth and especially of the two great inch-long tusks that hung down from the upper jaw and overlapped the lower.  But Ed thought he understood all about 'possums; his hand closed about Jim's tail.  No, not quite; for in that instant Jim jumped out of the tree I Twenty feet he fell, but was not hurt.

" Banjo! Trailer! Go for him; hold on to him!" shouted Ed. And all three were already at him.

Jim whirled around to face Banjo, well knowing that he was the most dangerous; and the old hound stopped right where he was, waiting his chance to pass that blaze of teeth. Trailer got a mouthful of fur and nipped a second time, but not a third, for Jim swung on him like lightning and slashed one long ear. Then Jim began backing towards the wood with Banjo following him inch for inch, still waiting his opportunity.

Before Ed Johnson reached the groundand he fell the last ten feet-Banjo flew in, but just missed his hold. Jim raked the dog's lip with one of his long teeth and again backed. Around the two ran Trailer and Sam Collins's pup, yelping, but too cowardly to take a hand. To them Jim never gave a second glance. His eyes were on Banjo and on Ed Johnson, the latter now on the ground.

Suddenly Trailer, on one of his aimless circles, ran between Banjo and the 'possum.  Instantly Jim turned and shuffled away for his life. Before Banjo passed the other hound and caught up, he was ten yards nearer to the wood. Ed Johnson, hunting for a stick, was still well behind. Then Banjo sprang again and locked with the big 'possum in furious battle for a throat hold.  But somehow his teeth again slipped and he sprang away yelling from a cut on the ear.

And still Jim backed. All at once he turned and ran. Banjo had looked to see whether his master was coming. Another instant and the 'possum was in the underbrush. No looking back now! He had won his chance and was making the best of it.

The hounds, blindly following, got tangled in the briars and circled to head Jim off. They rushed about yelling like fools, with Ed Johnson doing his best to straighten them out and only adding to the confusion. Meanwhile Jim was putting tree after tree behind him. Too wise to climb one, he was heading for the Creek, and the Creek he reached.

For an instant he hesitated on the bank, then waded into the cold water and struck out for the other shore. A splash behind told that Banjo was after him, but he had escaped Ed Johnson and the two timid curs. Up the bank he climbed and again into the woods and then to the biggest tree he could see. When Banjo landed, Jim was already climbing. But only to the first limb.  There he stopped for breath, looked carefully about and then down at Banjo with that old time grin on his face.

Ed Johnson went home that morning without any 'possums. When he remembered the little one in the tree, he found it gone. He looked in his sack and found only a hole. Nor was there any sign of the two runaways. Banjo, the sure trailer, was across the deep Creek; the other two hounds seemed unable to find anything. So Ed picked some ripe persimmons for himself, felt better the more he ate and finally started off without any hard feelings towards Jim. He knew that the 'possum would not leave the Valley and that sooner or later he would have another chance at the wonderful old fighter.

"Come, Banjo! Come on, Trailer! Yahoo!" he yelled.


...continue to Chapter 12: The Chicken Thief