Cat 'n Mouse!

Part II.

"Now tonight," she says, "the old witch'll send middle-siz varmints. You see can you keep them off, too." 

Jack picked around that day and got what berries and such could find to eat, cut him a middle-size club and when it com- menced gettin' dark he got by the door again. Then all kinds of pizen snakes and wildcats and weasels and boomers and ground hogs came and tried to get in. Jack hit at 'em with his club and knocked 'em off the porch and kept on a-givin' it to 'em till day- light. Then the door opened and that girl came out. She was pretty near the right size that time, but she still had some signs of a cat's claws and whiskers and ears. 

She says to Jack, "You done fine last night, Jack. Now tonight she'll send all sorts of little varmints. You'll have a time of it, I expect." 

So Jack eat a few blackberries and huckleberries that day and whittled him out some paddles and swatters and took up his stand by the door when night came; and all sorts of pizen scor- pions and insects and spiders and hornets and big ants came up and tried to cross the door sill, but Jack went to work with his swatters and his paddles and it was a sight in the world how he went after 'em. He thought there'd be a pile of dead things there when it got daylight, but when it got light enough for him to see, there wasn't a thing there on the porch. 

Then the door opened and there stood the prettiest girl you ever looked at. 

"You did real well, Jack," she says. "You come on in the house now and I'll fix ye somethin' to eat." 

She baked Jack some cornbread and fixed him some coffee, and while he was eatin', she says to him, "Now, you won't have nothin' to contend with tonight but the old witch herself. You got shet of all the plagues she had. Now, when she comes in you be sure and not let her do anything in the world for ye. I'll hide, and you and the old witch can go to it. You remember now, if you let her do one thing for ye, she'll witch us both into cats." 

So that night that girl went and hid somewhere, and Jack he found him a needle and some thread, pulled up 'fore the fire and went to patchin' his old raggedy coat. It wasn't long till a little ugly old wrinkled-up woman came hobblin' in the door, looked- like she was about a hundred years old. Her nose and her chin was so long they hung down a-wobblin'. She got a chair and pulled up close to Jack, says, "Howdy do, Jack." 

"Howdy do, ma'm." 

"Let me do that for ye, Jack. It looks so awkward seein' a man try to patch." 

"No," says Jack, "I'll do my own patchin'." 

The old witch looked sort of out-done, but Jack kept right on, and directly he got up to fix him a little supper. Got some meal and a pan and started mixin' bread. 

"Let me do that for ye, Jack. I never did like to see a man try to make bread." 

"No," says Jack, "I can fix bread all right." 

Then he went to the fire, raked him out some coals and set the skillet over 'em. Then he cut some meat and started it to fryin'. 

"Let me 'tend the meat for ye, Jack. I never saw anything so awkward as a man tryin' to cook." ~ 

"No, thank you, ma'm," says Jack, "I don't want you messin' with my meat. I'll 'tend it myself." 

Well, when Jack turned around to get his bread that old witch got hold of the knife and went to turn Jack's meat over. There was an old flesh fork a-hangin' there, big old fork they used to cook meat on. Jack grabbed that up and ran at the old woman with it, hooked her and rammed her right on in the fire. He held her down between the backlog and the forestick and such a crackin' and a poppin' and a fryin' and a singein' you never heard. Jack kept her there till she burnt up. 

Then there stood that girl just a-laughin', says, "You sure got her then, Jack. There'll not be no more witchery done around here." 

So she fixed Jack a nice supper and the next mornin' when they went out that place was just full of fine livestock - chickens and hogs and sheep and cattle and horses - and the road was cleared out and the crops all standin' in the fields. 

That girl says to Jack, "Ever'thing here belongs to you now, Jack, for killin' that witch." 

"You too?" says Jack. 

"Well," she says, "yes; if you say so." 

"I'll sure say so," says Jack; "you're the main part of the property." 

So they went and got two fine horses and hitched 'em up to the surrey, and went to the store and got Jack a new suit of clothes and then found 'em a preacher and got married. Jack he went to work about the place 'tendin' to his crops and his livestock, and that young woman she cooked and did the washin' and the milkin' and churnin' and all; and then Jack got to studyin' how the year was about up. So he told the girl about how he and Will and Tom had started out, and said they'd better fix up pretty soon to go back and see his daddy.