Shortly after I got married, I went to settle on the north side of the Big Muddy with my new wife, Mrs. Davy Crockett. Now a cousin of my wife’s packed his bags and came along with us. He had been to Cincinnati and had got a great education for them days. He could grammar-itize and geography-itize and philosophize. He did so many maths, he wore out his slate with all his ciphering! He said he intended to open a school as soon as our new home had got peopled. I got the notion he was looking to me and my wife to supply him with a smart chance of scholars.
When we got to the Big Muddy, I made a hole in the forest, and built a log house as fast as I could, though I was obliged to have my rifle Killdevil at my side all the time, as the panthers had a great deal of curiosity to see how a man’s flesh tasted. But I couldn’t oblige them in that way, no how. All the while Mrs. Davy Crockett and I were working on the cabin, that educated cousin of hers kept pouring over his books and didn’t do a lick of work otherwise. I wished he had a might less book learning and a might more training with his ax. But I didn’t say anything on account of him being the cousin of the missus.
After I had got my log house rigged up in pretty good style, we all moved into it. It was snug enough, except for one window that was not finished.
One dark evening, I sat in one corner and the schoolmaster sat in the other, facing a roaring fire. Mv wife, Mrs. Crockett, was fast asleep in a built-in bed I’d made on one side of the room. While the schoolmaster and I sat there talking about nothing at all, I heard a sort of scratching noise outside of the house. I glanced over to the wall where my rifle Killdevil hung above the bed; but before I could get up and grab it, a monstruous great panther bounced in at the window. In a heartbeat, she was crouched in the middle of the floor, between me and the fireplace; a-twitching her tail and rolling her eyes first at me and then at the schoolmaster. He looked terrified and I saw at once that he could not cipher himself out of this scrape. The varmint was the most savage beast that I ever set my eyes on. Her teeth looked so white I reckon she must have cleaned ’em every morning. Her eyes grew bigger and wilder every minute.
We sat as still as two rotten stumps in a bog. I did not dare to move even my head to look at Killdevil. Make the slightest twitch and the varmint would have her teeth in my carcass. So, we didn’t stir, and the wild creature kept squinting first at me and then at the schoolteacher, not knowing which of us to choose. I felt so mad I could have bitten through a five-inch plank. I had just done a hard day’s work, and I was too tired to die before I had a good night’s rest.
The schoolmaster whimpered: “What do you think we had best to do, Crockett?”
I told him that depended mostly on that there varmint. She was the one who had the casting vote on this occasion. Most likely, one of us would be chewed up before we were a minute older. Since had good book learning, I suppose he knew how to make his peace with God. As for me, I just had to trust God’s mercy would make it up where I was lacking.
The schoolmaster begun to blubber like a baby. He said we should direct the varmint’s eyes over to the place where my wife lay sleeping, so the panther would eat her up instead of us. Let me tell you, when I heard that her mean-spirited infernal coward of a cousin was willing to sacrifice my wife to save his own skin, I forgot all about the panther. I leapt right up, ready to throw him out the window; bags and all. No one living under my roof was going to threaten the life of Mrs. Davy Crockett and get away with it.
As soon as I jumped up, the panther made its move. It sprang toward me, jaws wide. I leapt sideways, reaching for Killdevil hanging over the bed. But the rifle was gone! My hand hit the empty wall just as the varmint closed her teeth on the sleeve of my coat. In that moment, I heard Killdevil speak, and the wildcat tumbled down dead at my feet! I was amazed at first, but in the next minute Mrs. Davy Crockett had her arms around my neck. Turns out, when I jumped up to toss her cousin out the window, it woke her up. She’d seen the panther, grabbed the rifle like a flash and fired it just in time to save my life. That’s my woman!
I pitched the cowardly schoolmaster out the window and Mrs. Davy Crockett threw his bags out after him. We told him to hit the road and never come back. Then we skinned the panther, cooked the meat, and settled down to enjoy a second honeymoon, now that we had our new cabin all to ourselves.
Based on a tall tale from the 1840 Crockett Almanac.
Copyrighted content: This is a retold folklore story by S.E. Schlosser, who owns the copyright. This version of the story may not be reproduced, reprinted or used in any other way without the permission of the author. Teachers may link to or photocopy this story as part of their classwork.