Open main menu

Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/115

This page has been validated.
89
THE PRAIRIE FIRE

Later the lurch of the wagon aroused me, and I started up with a sense of unaccountable alarm. The first object which met my eyes was a jackrabbit, sitting on his haunches not more than two rods from the trail we were following. Knowing the habitual timidity of these creatures the boldness of this one surprised me greatly. He sat there with his ears cocked straight up, his nose working nervously and his heart pounding so heavily that its pulsations shook his gray sides. Not until the wagon had passed did the rabbit stir. Then he dropped upon all fours and vanished in a gray streak traveling in a line parallel with the course of the caravan and keeping only a few rods from our trail. While I was still pondering over the strange conduct of the animal I saw a "rattler" emerge from the grass into the beaten trail only a few feet in front of the "off leader" of our four-horse team. Naturally I expected to see the snake coil and strike the horse, but he did nothing of the kind—simply avoided the horse's hoofs and then slipped away into the grass beyond. What was the meaning of the strange spell which seemed suddenly to have taken possession of the wild animals and reptiles of the plain through which we were traveling? There was no escape from the con-