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Title: A Man-Sized Pet
Author: Tuttle, W. C. (Wilbur C.)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Man-Sized Pet" ***

A Man-Sized Pet

by W. C. Tuttle

Author of “Magpie’s Nightbear,” “A Bull Movement in Yellow Horse,” etc.

It was an incongruous group that sat around the rough pine table in
Magpie Simpkins’s cabin, and played pitch by the light of an old smoky
kerosene lamp.

Magpie Simpkins, six feet two, slender to the point of emaciation, with
the face of a scholar above his walrus-like mustache, sat there peering
at his cards through the only pair of glasses on Sleeping Creek.

Magpie had been to Missoula a short time before and at the earnest
solicitation of an optician had purchased a pair of glasses, sans bows,
which he fastened to his person through the medium of a wide silk
ribbon. At the present time he wore the ribbon around his neck for

Tellurium Woods, the second of the trio, was as fat as any outdoor man
could ever expect to be, and his bald head and luxuriant brown beard
gave one the impression of looking at a billiard ball on a rug.
Tellurium affected buckskin shirts of his own manufacture and design,
and it was impossible to tell, at the neck, just where the shirt left
off and the skin began.

Bantie Weyman was the exact opposite of the others. He was about five
feet two inches in height and would weigh about a hundred. He had a
soprano voice, a gold tooth, and took baths. In the latter he differed
from any one else on the range.

Bantie wasn’t exactly a man’s man but he did a man’s work on his claim
in Bear Gulch and claimed to be the champion sourdough bread-maker of
the world. Bantie was timid--so timid that he wouldn’t pack a gun, and
the only armament of his cabin consisted of a .22 rifle with a section
of cleaning-rod broken off inside the barrel.

These three represented the social column of Sleeping Creek. Their
cabins were situated within a radius of two miles, and in order to keep
up the social life of the district they had instituted a private pitch
club--two bits a corner and ten cents set back. The three were to
alternate as hosts.

At this, their first session, there was a fourth party present. It
seemed very much interested in the hands held by Bantie, much to
Bantie’s embarrassment and to the huge delight of the others. Bantie
played the jack of diamonds and snorted loudly as Magpie took it with
the queen and a chuckle.

“Magpie, yuh got to put that bear outside!” he shrilled. “He gits his
danged nose in m’ ear and I don’t know whether I’m playin’ th’ jack or
th’ ace! I got th’ ace--see? By golly! That sets me back three and
costs me ten cents! I ain’t goin’ to riffle another card until yuh puts
that emblem uh California out in th’ shed, _sabe_?”

“Haw! Haw!” roared Tellurium. “Be uh man, Bantie. That pore li’l
grizzly won’t hurt yuh. Look at him! He’s plumb heart-broke over them
words, Bantie. While yore uh fair--jist fair--pitch player, Bantie, yuh
lacks something. If yuh was simply sloppy with th’ milk uh human
kindness like me and Magpie you’d git uh pet.”

“That ultimatum,” replied Bantie, “covers that wolf uh yours under th’
bunk, Tellurium. Every time I turns to spit I got to look into his
shinin’ eyes. Don’t th’ loafer never sleep?”

“Well,” grinned Tellurium, “he ain’t no regular Rip Van Winkle, but he’s
tame--tame enough fer uh man. I believes in uh man-sized pet and fer
that reason I cottons to th’ wolf. Uh course he’s only good fer uh grown

Bantie grunted and put on his coat.

“My re-marks goes as she lays,” he stated. “I don’t play with no danged
menagerie. It’s bad enough to be whipsawed by uh pair uh snake-hunters
like you and Magpie but I draws th’ line at havin’ uh wolf under m’ feet
and uh grizzly workin’ down wind behind m’ ear. Why I----”

“Say, Tellurium, did yuh ever see my bear dance?” interrupted Magpie.

“He’s there four ways from th’ jack. Watch him now.”

Magpie slid the table over against the wall and took a rusty gold-pan
from behind the stove. Using it as a tambourine, he began a shuffle on
the rough floor.

The bear watched him for a minute and then with a squeal of delight got
up on its hind legs and began to prance around the cabin. Bantie forgot
his fear and began to shuffle too, while Tellurium sat with his feet
over the end of the bunk and sang “Annie Laurie” in a husky voice to the
tune of “A Hot Time.”

Whether through accident or design the bear danced straight for the
shuffling Bantie, who was intent on watching his own toes. Bantie looked
up as the bear was almost against him and he stepped back hurriedly out
of harm’s way. At least he was out of the bear’s way but unfortunately
one of his boot heels landed squarely on the front foot of the wolf
under the bunk.

A description of the rest of the action would be pure fiction as no one
in the cabin ever knew just what did happen. Suffice to say that when
the explosion was over Magpie was under the table, Tellurium was under
the bunk, the bear was whining up on the rafters, Bantie and the wolf
were gone and so was the one window to the cabin.

It was probably ten minutes later that Bantie stuck his head into the
open window and panted:

“My remarks still goes as she lays! I’ll play solitaire until m’ mind
goes abroad before I’ll play in uh zoo like this again! Any time you
jaspers want to play with me jist leave th’ specimens tied up, _sabe_?”

“Did yuh git cut up any, Bantie?” grinned Magpie.

“Lost m’ pants,” stated Bantie in a soprano voice.

Tellurium grinned and took a fresh chew.

“Better git uh pet to keep yuh company. Fine thing fer uh man.”

His accent on the last word irritated Bantie so much that he shrugged
his thin shoulders and started off in the dark toward his cabin without

“Hey!” yelled Tellurium. “What did yuh do with my wolf?”

“He’ll git back some time tomorrow!” shrilled Bantie. “That is, if he
don’t lose m’ return trail.”

                   *       *       *       *       *

The next night Magpie and Tellurium ambled down to Bantie’s cabin,
ostensibly to square things with Bantie but it is worthy of notice that
they took their pets along. Bantie wasn’t home and the cabin was locked,
so they went back to Tellurium’s cabin and played single-handed poker.

It was four days later that Bantie sat in front of his cabin, and the
stoop was gone from his shoulders. He was having the time of his life
watching a little gray kitten pull off stunts with an old newspaper.

“Ain’t he th’ little rascal?” he chuckled. “Gosh, he shore is some pet
and that’s whatever. I’m shore pleased with his color--yes sir. Almost
uh dead ringer fer--huh! That’s goin’ to be uh good joke if it works.
It’s goin’ to re-quire some thinkin’. Twenty dollars rent! That’s uh
heap uh--gosh! Here comes Magpie down th’ trail! Kitty, kitty,
kitty--well, git in th’ house then. Doggone, I got to cache that cat
before he gits here.”

Bantie was busy with his broom when Magpie leaned against the doorway
with a broad grin.

“Hello, Bantie. When did yuh git back?”

“Yesterday afternoon. Come inside while I sweeps this dirt out.”

Magpie came in and sat down on the bunk.

“To see yuh handle that broom, Bantie, reminds me uh heap of uh fee-male
person. You shore are finicky about yor floor.”

Bantie blushed through his tan and swept vigorously.

Magpie saw that he had riled Bantie so he continued:

“You shore ought to have uh pet around yore cabin. Uh feller gits uh
heap uh comfort out of uh pet. Now, old man Sims down at th’ forks, has
got uh litter uh gray kittens and I know he’d shore admire to give yuh
one. Uh course yuh don’t want nothin’ bigger nor more fee-rocious than
house cats. Wild animal pets are only fit fer----”

He had started to make a deprecatory gesture with his right hand, which
had suddenly come into contact with fur. Also the fur moved. Magpie took
one look and then swallowed his tobacco. A wildcat was sitting on the
bunk beside him and two big, yellow eyes stared into his. Magpie knew
wildcats--knew that no living animal could move more quickly. But if any
wildcat had caught Magpie in the next ten seconds it would have set a
new record for the species.

Bantie dropped his broom as Magpie went past and then leaned against the
doorway and watched him slow down a hundred yards away and pull his gun
as he whirled. The little gray kitten rubbed against Bantie’s leg and he
picked it up and cuddled it to his face as he watched Magpie scratch his
neck and then amble off up the trail.

To say that Magpie was astonished as he plodded off up that trail would
be putting it mildly.

“I wonder if that was uh bob-cat?” he queried aloud. “Dang it all, my
eyes ain’t what they used to be. Leavin’ my specs to home that away puts
me plumb dim in th’ vision, but--huh, that shore looked like uh
bob-cat--yes sir! But shucks, it ain’t possible! Bantie with uh
bob-cat! No siree, it ain’t reasonable I tell yuh! Must ’a’ been my
eyes I reckon.”

He went rumbling along the trail with his head down and nearly ran
headlong into Tellurium.

“Whoa, yuh old goat!” yelled Tellurium. “What yuh tryin’ to do--butt
yore way home?”

“Howdy, Tellurium. Where yuh goin’?”

“Reckoned I’d pilgrim down and see if Bantie’s got home yet. Did yuh see

“Uh-ha. I stopped by his cabin fer uh spell.”

“Did he have anything to say about me and you and th’ pets?” asked
Tellurium, with a grin.

“Not uh word. I reckon he’s done forgot it. Nice li’l feller that

“Nice enough fer uh runt, but I don’t admire th’ breed none. He’s too
doggone scary, Magpie.”

“Un-ha,” agreed Magpie. “He shore ain’t got no corner on nerve. Well, I
got to be goin’. Come over tonight and play uh little poker. I don’t
suppose Bantie wants to play but yuh might ask him.”

Tellurium rambled off down the trail and Magpie stood there and watched
him for a while. Finally he scratched his neck and murmured:

“Mebby I’d ought to have told him but--shucks, it wasn’t nothin’--not uh
danged thing! But jist th’ same I--huh!”

Bantie was washing a pair of overalls in a battered dishpan when
Tellurium hove in sight, and he threw them over a stump to dry.

“Howdy, Bantie,” greeted Tellurium, with a wide-mouthed grin. “As uh
particular feller you shore got ’em all skinned. Washin’ overalls!
What’s th’ use uh that? Say, I’ll bet you takes uh bath too when nobody
ain’t lookin’. Haw! Haw! I knowed uh feller oncet who used to take uh
bath twice uh month regular. Dang near rubbed all th’ skin off hisself.
You ought to git uh buckskin shirt like mine, Bantie. Them skin shirts
keep yuh from gittin’ dirty--sort a fit so tight th’ dirt can’t git in,

Bantie grinned and dried his hands.

“Go inside, Tellurium, and sit down while I gits some fresh water. I
drinks uh lot uh water this hot weather.”

“Un-ha, I reckon yuh would,” replied Tellurium, as Bantie took the pail
and started for the creek. “Yes sir, I wouldn’t put it uh bit past
yuh--drinkin’ lots uh water.”

It was probably two minutes later when Bantie came back whistling with
his pail of water and entered the cabin.

“This old Sleepin’ Creek shore produces th’ fine water,” he remarked but
there was no response--the cabin was empty.

He walked to the door and looked around but there was no sign of

“That’s danged funny!” he exclaimed aloud. “Where in thunder is
Tellurium?” He went outside and walked around the cabin and then came in
and looked under the bunk.

“Well, I’ll be uh----”

He gasped as he pulled an object from under the bunk and held it up to
the light. It was a battered old sombrero and in the crown was punched
the initials, T. W.

“Mama mine!” chuckled Bantie. “And Tellurium shore wasn’t built fer
such speed neither!”

The little gray kitten on the bunk voiced its hunger and got a whole can
of precious condensed milk for supper that night.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Tellurium went over to play poker with Magpie that night but neither of
them mentioned Bantie until the evening was nearly over. Magpie shoved
back from the table and began to polish his glasses on a piece of

“My eyes are gittin’ plumb bad,” he complained. “Sometimes I think I see
things and I know doggone well I don’t. I reckon I’d better wear my
specs all th’ time.”

“Reckon I’ll have to git some too,” agreed Tellurium.

“Yore vision botherin’ yuh too?”

“Same as yours.”

“When did yuh notice it first?”

“This afternoon. I--huh--say, Magpie, did yuh notice anything--well,
sort a unusual down to Bantie’s?”

“Say!” exploded Magpie, leaning across the table. “Did you see it too?”

“ _Felt_ it is nearer th’ word. Th’ danged thing kept my Sunday hat!”

Magpie continued to polish his glasses and seemed lost in reflection.

“Jist about what do yuh reckon it is?” questioned Tellurium. “I didn’t
stay long enough to make uh good estimate.”

“You and me both,” agreed Magpie. “What little I saw of it shore
re-sembled uh bob-cat, but bein’ hasty thataway uh feller can’t depend
on snap judgement. Knowin’ Bantie like we do I’m inclined to argue that
we both was seein’ things which ain’t.”

“Well, mebby,” half agreed Tellurium. “But if it was it’s th’ first time
that bad eyesight ever caused uh streak uh gray dynamite to crawl my
frame and spit brimstone over my carcass and forcibly take my hat away.
Mebby I’m seein’ things, Magpie, but if I am I shore didn’t start in th’
lower grades. No sir, I reckon I got into fast company immediately.”

“I’ll tell yuh what we’ll do,” continued Tellurium, getting up and
putting on his coat, “we’ll go down there tomorrow and take our pets
along. If that is uh bob-cat I’d shore admire to have it hop my wolf.”

“And git yore wolf all scratched to shoestrings,” grinned Magpie. “My
grizzly is more like it. Bob-cats as uh rule don’t hanker none to climb
th’ frame of grizzlies.”

“We’ll take ’em both,” replied Tellurium, settling the argument. “I
don’t care a dang what happens jist so I gits my hat back. That lid cost
me twelve dollars five years ago and I longs fer it something
scandalous, Magpie.”

                   *       *       *       *       *

The next morning Magpie and Tellurium arrived at Bantie’s cabin with
their pets. The grizzly was a poor leader and Magpie was worn out
trying to drag several hundred pounds of protesting bear for two miles
over a trail. Tellurium was equally tired from having to dig his heels
into the ground all the way trying to hold his wolf to a sedate pace.

Bantie was sitting in the shady side of his cabin reading, and on his
lap lay a little gray kitten. Tellurium saw the kitten first and stopped
in his tracks, but the wolf kept right on going and nearly upset
Bantie’s chair. The kitten arched its back, clawed its way up the side
of the cabin and spat at the wolf from the eaves.

“What yuh tryin’ to do?” yelled Bantie, trying to escape from the
attentions of the pets. “Gol dang it! When yuh comes visitin’ why don’t
yuh come a-lone!”

“Givin’ th’ pets uh little airin’,” mumbled Magpie, still eying the
kitten on the roof. “Where did yuh git th’ kitten, Bantie?”

“Got him from old man Sims uh few days ago. I needed company so I gits
th’ kitten. Didn’t yuh see him when yuh was here before?”

“Say,” continued Bantie, before Magpie had a chance to answer, “where
did yuh go th’ other day, Tellurium? When I gits back with that pail uh
water yuh was gone. I finds the kitten maulin’ yore hat around th’ floor
and you ain’t no place in sight.”

“I--I--huh! You say yuh finds that kitten playin’ with my hat?”

Bantie picked the hat off the bed and handed it to Tellurium.

“Ain’t that yore hat?”

“By golly, she shore is!” exclaimed Tellurium. “How do yuh reckon that
hat got down here? I must be gittin’ absent minded, Magpie.”

“I reckon yore both that way,” grinned Bantie. “Th’ other day Magpie is
here sittin’ comfortably on m’ bunk, and all to oncet he shoots out of
th’ door and gallops off up th’ trail. I stands here plumb surprised.
I’m plumb scared that he’s loco.”

Magpie looked at Tellurium in an inquiring way, but Tellurium’s face was
hopelessly blank.

The bear and wolf, unleashed, wandered into the cabin just as Bantie
stood up and remarked:

“You fellers might as well come in out of th’ sun. Mebby it was th’ heat
that affected yuh. I’ve got uh li’l bottle of hooch from old man Sims’
keg, and he told me that it was th’----”

“Say no more, Bantie,” beamed Tellurium, starting for the cabin door
closely followed by the willing Magpie. “Old man Sims gives me uh shot
uh that stuff oncet and ever since that time I’ve wished----”

Came a roar of pain and a yelp of surprise and the upheaval started. A
streak of roan-colored bear, with a gray hump on its back, hit Magpie
dead center, knocking him back into Tellurium, and as they fell the bear
raked them fore and aft and the wolf, yipping like the fiends of the bad
place were tied to its tail, raced across their prostrate bodies and
disappeared in a cloud of dust up the trail.

The wolf, running at its best speed, was a poor second to the bear. The
bear was carrying weight but handled it nicely.

Bantie leaned against the door frame and shrilled his mirth in a high
key while the little gray kitten stood in the door and looked
inquiringly at the two in the dust.

“What in ---- happened?” wailed Magpie, feeling tenderly of a spot on
his chest where the bear had grasped a foothold.

“Avalanche!” gasped Tellurium. “Top of th’ mountain busted right off
and half of it hit me in th’ belt-buckle. I reckon I’d better light uh
match to see if I’m conscious.”

Magpie gazed ruefully up the trail as he brushed off his clothes.

“I wonder what got into them pets? Gosh, uh grizzly shore has uh lot uh
motive power when he gits a-goin’! Where yuh goin’, Tellurium?”

“I’m goin’ to find them animiles and see what’s th’ matter. Gol darn! I
wouldn’t take uh fortune fer that wolf. He’s uh----”

“Man-sized pet,” finished Bantie with a grin, as he picked up the little
gray kitten and snuggled it to his face. “Pore li’l kitty, did they
scare yuh?”

“Scare----!” exploded Magpie. “I’ll bet--huh!”

He turned and followed Tellurium up the trail, and Bantie watched them
with an expectant grin on his face. The trail led over a point of rocks
above the creek and at that point there was a sheer drop of about
fifteen feet to the water, which was about five feet in depth.

Magpie caught up with Tellurium at this place and they stopped to argue
the question. Beyond them the trail curved sharply around another cliff
of rocks.

Tellurium shoved his hands into his pockets and faced Magpie

“It don’t stand to reason, Magpie, that uh house cat----”

His argument was cut off. The avalanche had returned.

Being as the two were occupying most of the trail there was no chance to
avoid the shock. Tellurium had hold of Magpie’s arm and the two of them
performed their aerial spin and dip of death as one person.

The chase had evidently turned as the wolf was in the lead and using all
the power of its legs and voice to hold that lead. The bear was due to
slow up or run over the wolf if the race continued for a hundred yards

“Leggo my face!” spluttered Magpie, trying to shake Tellurium’s grip
loose and grab a trailing willow shoot at the same time. “What yuh
tryin’ to do, drown me?”

“Don’t claw me--gimme room!” gasped Tellurium. He lunged toward the
bank and shook Magpie’s hold from the willow.

“Danged hippopotamus, tread water!” choked Magpie. “Leggo my arm! If I
ever gits you--gurgle--gurgle--on dry land--leggo!”

“What did yuh push me in fer?” wailed Tellurium.

He tried to stand up but the current was too strong and he went
pin-wheeling his way down the creek to a sand-bar. Magpie, relieved of
Tellurium’s clutches, managed to grab the bank and pull himself out. He
wandered down to where Tellurium was pouring the water out of his boots
and sat down disconsolately on a log.

“I’d shore admire to know what happened?” he remarked. “Something shore
has happened that I ain’t got no light on. Now, that danged little
kitten ain’t--huh, I dunno, I dunno.”

“No, it shore ain’t,” agreed Tellurium foolishly. “But if it ain’t, what
is? I asks yuh, Magpie, what is?”

“Why ask me?” demanded Magpie.

“Do yuh reckon I’m uh palmist? I know one thing, I’m goin’ over and git
my bear. Whatever it is it ain’t no place fer bears. I reckon I’ll have
to tame that pet all over again. Let’s go over and interview Bantie.”

Bantie was still standing in the door with his kitten on his arm and he
grinned widely at their dilapidated appearance.

Magpie wiped his mustache and glared at Bantie.

“Where’s my bear?”

“And also that wolf uh mine!” snapped Tellurium.

“Do yuh want ’em sudden like or jist natural?” inquired Bantie.

“Sudden like suits me!” stated Magpie. “If I could git away from this
place goin’ uh thousand feet uh second I’d feel that I was sort a

“Watch m’ root-house door,” said Bantie, as he shoved the kitten back
into the cabin and shut the door.

The root-house was simply a dug-out under the cabin, with a rough hinged
door opening on a slant from the ground. The door was closed but not
fastened. Magpie started to walk over and open it but he moved too late.

Came a yelp and a grunt of fear and the door heaved up, nearly tearing
the hinges off, and the bear sailed out of the cellar and streaked for
the nearest tree.

The wolf hit only the highest points of the scenery until it came to a
high point across the creek, where it stopped long enough to elevate its
nose and voice its displeasure to the world.

Inside the cabin Bantie was down on his hands and knees, peering down
into the cellar through a hole made by removing some of the rough
flooring. He pulled on a short rope and called softly and a full-grown
wildcat climbed out of the hole and rubbed affectionately against his
leg. Bantie tied the leash to the bunk leg and the cat crawled under the

“By th’ great horn spoon!” exclaimed Bantie. “You shore are some pet!
Frenchy Burgoyne said uh mouthful when he said that yuh didn’t allow
strangers to trespass. Li’l cat, yuh cost me jist twenty dollars rent
but yore shore worth it--every cent. I plumb hates to take yuh back but
uh bargain’s uh bargain. As uh bare-back rider of grizzlies I takes m’
hat off to you, li’l bob-cat.”

Outside, Magpie and Tellurium leaned against each other and watched the
wolf bid farewell to humanity.

Finally, evidently with misgivings, the bear slid down out of the tree.
It gazed at the two with melancholy in its little eyes and then waddled
off into the willows down Sleeping Creek.

Tellurium sat down heavily on a log and wiped his bald head with a wet

“This is gittin’ to be th’ dangdest----”

“Look!” exclaimed Magpie, pointing to the open root-house door. The
little gray kitten was perched on the top step and its little ears
twitched as it looked cautiously about before coming out.

“What General Sherman said about war, goes double fer cats!” remarked

Magpie scratched his neck thoughtfully for a moment and then started off
down the Sleeping Creek trail on a half run.

“Where in ---- yuh goin’?” yelled Tellurium.

Magpie stopped for a moment and considered the little kitten on the
root-house door, before he yelled back:

“I’m goin’ down to dicker with old man Sims before he gits rid of all
that litter uh cats. I needs uh pet and I shore admires th’ best there

“You and me both,” agreed Tellurium fervently, and they went down the
trail together.

[Transcriber’s Note: This story appeared in the December, 1916 issue of
_Adventure_ magazine.]

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