A young family moved to a homestead
that had a small, long-deserted house on it. The husband had to go back for
another load of their possessions, and his wife busied herself unpacking,
setting up the bed and putting the baby to sleep. Unbeknownst to her, a big
panther was nearby.
As night drew near, she was
disturbed because there was no shutter on the front door. She hung a quilt over
the opening and tacked it securely all around. She kept busy until she was too tired
to unpack another thing.
While she was trying to sleep, she
was sure she heard a panther scream. The scream came again, closer this time.
Fear gripped her heart, and she pulled the baby closer. Then there was a
blood-curdling scream just outside the cabin door. She shrank under the covers
and held the baby very close for fear it would cry out.
An awful ripping sound told her the
quilt was being torn to shreds by sharp claws. Then she knew the beast was in
the very room with her! She expected to feel claws tearing at the bed covers.
A little later the noises that she
heard made her realize the panther was on the rafters of the unsealed room. He
settled down and all was quiet – a creeping awful quiet.
The young mother remembered the Scripture, “My God hath
sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths…” Could it be that God was
watching over her and her helpless baby? Lying there, she was almost afraid to
breathe lest she wake the baby and cause it to cry. She realized that the
panther had been using the long-vacant cabin for his sleeping quarters. Minutes
dragged. She knew it would be morning before her husband could get back.
Long before daylight, the panther
crawled from his perch and disappeared into the woods. Her husband’s cheerful
call outside in the early dawn was like a voice from heaven.
Before another nightfall, a sturdy
door replaced the torn quilt and a well-aimed rifle shot provided a tawny rug
for the hearthstone.
Mrs. F. J. Testerman
went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s WEEKLY asking for readers to send
in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early
settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from
grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were
received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My
Folks title – My Folks Came in a
Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine
other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to
make those stories available to our growing online community.