Coon hunting with hounds

Blue the Coon Dawg and Old John's Ghost

Written by Mary Lou McKillips

I, old Blue lived in the Snowbird Mountain of Robbinsville, North Carolina with my master John. Old John had a cabin; but no wife. He would tell me it's cheaper just to have me, that I didn't give him any lip; but I sure wanted to at times don't you know. John and me hunted coons on Saturday nights and I always would tree three or four coons in one night. John sold the hides and he boiled the meat for a feast for Sunday dinner with corn flapjacks and stewed tatters.

John had worked hard all day plowing with his old mule Sally with me laying in the shade dreaming of the gal dog I saw two week earlier in town. but her master took her away before I could kiss her on the nose or get a date with her. I wasn't worth a hoot sometimes when it comes to treeing coons if I had girl dawgs on my mind and not them varmint ringtail coons.

John come in that night to get him and me some supper. He was a big eater; I could wolf it down too. John fried us up some streak lean meat and made saw mill gravy. He made flap jacks outa corn meal, enough for him and me old Blue. John boiled him some coffee in a black kettle; he had to have it hot right off the fire. Not me for I had to have my sweet milk.

John wasn't a man of God, but he'd say, "Blue, I know God knows I am grateful for my vittles." I barked too to tell the Lord I liked my food.

Now my job was to lick the plates clean and old John would turn them bottom side up on the table until breakfast the next morning.

The fire in the fireplace was crackling and John was patting my old sorry head when I smelled the dankest smell like earth and mold. I ain't never smelled such an odor. Old John must not have smelled it; if he did he never let on. They say us old dogs have a keen smeller and golly I believed it. The scent got closer and closer and all of a sudden the door swung open and in walked the prettiest red headed gal you ever did see.

I started to bark and all of a sudden she pointed her slim finger at me and I clamed up like a shell. She waltzed farther into the room. Darn she was pretty, but stunk to high heaven or hell one. She strutted over to the fireplace and put her hand upon the mantle and tossed her auburn hair to one side and never said a word. My shaggy frame begin to shake with my rattling bones hitting the floor. She had on a long green gingham dress with a green ribbon in her hair and had piercing black eyes.

John finally found his voice and said, "what is your name my pretty miss are you a neighbor here abouts?"

Lord, the look she gave John run cold chills up my furry backbone and it shook old John up too, since whatever it was didn't speak or smile or nothing.

He said, "where I come from it's polite to tell one's name. Who are you Miss?"

She turned and flipped her hair and tossed her head to one side and looked like to me the devil was dancing in those black eyes and still she never uttered a word.

Boy was old John mad and said, "are you a haint? If you are this is my cabin and you git, no haint's gonna run me off,"

She sashayed around to the other side of the fireplace and placed her arm across her face, it looked like Satan's demons were running out of her in leaps and bounds. I was scared fartless.

John said, "Well, me and old Blue are going to bed, climb in the bed and let's go to sleep if you ain't going to tell me who you are. Seems like the cat's done got your tongue. I've got to get up early in the morning and I can't play cat and mouse with you all night young lady!!"

Boy, I wasn't going to shut my Grey eyes. I though I'd bark to perhaps scare her out, but something wasn't real. I tried to bark again and she pointed her long slender finger at me again and I thought I'd pass out cold. I hadn't never been so scared since the day I was borned. Old John called to me to come over to the bed and lay where I always had laid, but I couldn't move a muscle.

He called and called and said, "you dumb dog you, get over here to bed."

I would have told him No, if I could have got my jaws to working, then I guess he'd had something to holler Haint about. Boy, I wanted to go sniff her so bad and I couldn't move not even a paw. I had a puddle of water under me though, I was scared so bad. John told her you can leave or get in bed one of the two, I'm tired and ain't' going put up with much more of this crap from you woman.

John moved the lamp close to the bed and blowed the lamp lite out and immediate it came back on, he blowed it out again and immediate it came back on. I had added to the puddle under me by this time. My neck seemed like it was coming off my body my head shook so. John got up cursing and some of the language I a coon dog named Blue ain't repeating, No sir! No sir!

Old John come out with some more choice word and took his pocket knife out of his overalls pocket and made a lunge for the girl and when he did she just disappeared. Then a flood came in the form of a stream under me. Old John sat down and his poor bones knocked against that straight back chair until I just knowed the strips was coming off the bottom of that old chair. He called me to come and I was glad to trot to his side, Oh Lord, was I glad to trot to his side. I got as close as I could and laid down without getting up in his lap you know.

He asked, "why didn't you come when I called you dummy?"

Lord, I just about answered him and said, "Dummy, I tried, but my carcass wouldn't move me." The what ever it was had a spell over me, liked to have scared me out of my wits.

Preacher Jones came the next day to visit old John. John told him about that there guest we had last night. He throwed back his bald head and laughter and said, "You saw the red headed ghost John."

He began to tell about the matter, "that there was a man named Oscar who built this very cabin of John's and married him a raven beauty with long auburn hair. Rosa was her name, but she was unfaithful to Oscar, when men came to the cabin Oscar was out cutting wood or plowing, but one day he came back for water and caught her with another man. He took out his pocket knife and cut their throats both of them and left the country. It was days or weeks before someone found their bodies, but Oscar was never found or hasn't been heard from since."

"You see John, the ghost of Rosa comes back to seek revenge for her death and her lover. When you got your pocket knife out to slit her throat that stopped the revenge, she will never come back. This was the last of the red headed ghost others had seen, but no one tried to kill her in the same way she and her lover were killed," said the preacher.

John got under conviction and was saved and he started shouting around the cabin and darn near stomped my tail off. I was glad old John got religion. The devil gave him a visit with a dress on; it scared the devil out of old John. I know what I'm talking about, three guesses as to who was there?

I had it pretty good from then on. There was several times I almost told John a thing or two.

Heck, Dogs don't talk! Do they? If they did it would save my throat while barking up a tree after that old coon, I'd just hollered you varmint Coonie you might as well come on down before John shoots you down.

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