The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Another story given by Mr. John (Jacky) Haggard of Peel, Marion County, Ark., regarding attacks of the denizens of the forest relates to an attack by wolves one night when least expected. It has already been stated that Mr. Haggard was an early settler on Swan Creek in Taney County, Mo., but during the war between the north and south he removed from Swan Creek to Arkansas and lived awhile on the head of West Sugar Loaf Creek just above the mouth of Lead Mine hollow in what is now Boone County. Mr. Haggard said that the attack of these vicious animals on him impressed his mind to such an extent that he has never forgotten it and here is the way he described the occurrence.

"It was during the war," said he. "I had moved to West Sugar Loaf Creek for only a temporary residence. I had enlisted in the confederate army and wanted to remain with my family a few days. But it was a hard task to stay at home then, for no one could tell how long life would last without dying a death that was not caused by sickness. It was serious times here during those awful days as the surviving soldiers of both sides can testify. One night just after I had come from the army, I put the bell on my horse and turned him out to graze on the grass which was plentiful near the house. But the horse went further from the house than I anticipated The weather was fine, clear and pleasant temperature, with full moon. The beautiful luminary of the night appeared to shine with more brilliancy than usual; the air was calm. All nature seemed quiet and appeared to call for peace among warring humanity. No scouting party of the enemy had visited that section for sometime and I asked myself could I rest in peace for one night, but I am told that a storm follows a calm. Sometimes this old adage proves true more especially for the weather. It did so in my case for there was danger brewing from a source that I least expected. I left the house to bring my horse back. He had gone some distance off and the bell being very small I could hardly hear it and was bothered in getting the proper direction. I had gone a quarter of a mile and stopped to listen. Then I heard an ominous sound instead of the bell. I had heard the same kind of noise frequently for it was common to hear such noise. It was the howling of a wolf, then others answered in different directions. I knew a pack of wolves were dangerous to meet and wanted no experience with a hungry pack of them. I stood a moment to ascertain how many were howling and I noticed they were collecting together. This was more wolf than I wanted. I had no gun with me or weapon of any sort except a small pocket knife that was almost worn out. I did not know for certain whether their intention was to attack me or not and I concluded to wait and see. While my attention was called at the noise of their howls I heard a strange noise in a thicket nearby like a bunch of dogs trotting on dry leaves. There was not a dog with me nor none at the house. I knew now it was time to vacate my position, and I turned to run. As I did so, I saw seven wolves rushing at me from the thicket. I was panic stricken with terror and fled like a wild deer. The hungry wolves did not halt but kept right on in pursuit. I reflected as I ran and thought I could win the race with excellent speed but I exceeded what I supposed was my best running and it appeared that the ravenous beasts had to use some activity to keep up with me. I did not know that I could run like a deer until that night. Though I kept in the lead, they remained so close to me they would snap at my heels. This caused me to urge myself along a little faster. I whooped and yelled as I ran and the wolves whined and snarled. In accelerating my speed I tried to clear several yards at each jump but I was too excited at times and would leap too high and the time seemed long before I could hit the ground and make another leap forward. It is nothing funny to be pursued by a pack of wolves and it does seem to a fellow while jumping along that he is a long time alighting. By this time other wolves had joined in the race and were crowding me fearfully. I could hear their toe nails scratching the stones and scattering the gravel behind me. I believed then I was a goner and decided in my mind that these wolves were to be dreaded worse than an enemy in human form. I wanted to climb a tree but I did not have time. I said to myself if I want to preserve my life from these vicious animals it had to be done by flight and I was using my best speed. The quarter of a mile seemed to stretch two miles and I thought I never would reach the house. As I made each jump forward the wolves would snap at my heels, snarl and gnash their teeth together. Of course this was an inducement for me to run the faster if it was possible for me to do so. The race was exhausting me and my breath was short and quick but there was no rest for the weary in my case. Nearing the yard fence I grew hopeful. When I reached it I did not take time to climb over but jumped as high as I could and went over like a mule. Gaining my equilibrium in a moment, I rushed on through the yard to the door of my cabin. All the wolves stopped at the fence except one vicious fellow and he leaped the fence after me and followed me across the yard. My wife had heard the wolves and my yells, too, and she was scared almost to death and she waited anxiously for my return and when she saw me coming on a wild run she opened the door full wide and stood just on the inside to give me plenty of room to get in the house and as I dashed into the house the wolf was at the doorstep. It would have followed me into the house but as I lit in the middle of the floor my wife slammed the door shut before it had time to rush in. I was so exhausted that I breathed rapid and listened at their noise of disappointment of making a supper of me. It was sometime before I was able to describe the details of my race to my anxious wife. The impudent beasts remained near the house and howled an hour or two before they left, but I was safe in the house and took care not to go out and attempt to frighten them away. I want to tell you before I quit this story that the race with the wolves was a lively one," said Mr. Haggard, "and I do not crave to want anymore such running on my part."

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