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The Hunter

The Hunter

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The Hunter

234 pagine
3 ore
Nov 1, 2019


The Hunter, first published in 1950, is a lean novel in the Hemingway tradition that captures the essence of the big-game hunt. Set in the southern Rocky Mountains, the book focuses on Monk Taylor, living in semi-isolation with Billy Trott, a native, and a half-crazed old woman, only lives to track big-game while avoiding obligations to others, including the woman, Marge, who loves him. Monk agrees to guide two easterners on a lion hunt, but in a fit of rudeness, Monk ends the hunt but is soon himself lying injured and horseless in a gully. Saved, and brought back to Marge by Billy Trott, Monk fantasizes about marriage, but when he realizes he has nothing to give her or anyone else, he once again sends her away.
Nov 1, 2019

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The Hunter - Hugh Fosburgh

© Phocion Publishing 2019, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Publisher’s Note

Although in most cases we have retained the Author’s original spelling and grammar to authentically reproduce the work of the Author and the original intent of such material, some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader’s benefit.

We have also made every effort to include all maps and illustrations of the original edition the limitations of formatting do not allow of including larger maps, we will upload as many of these maps as possible.




The Hunter was originally published in 1950 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.














* * *




Billy Trott sat on a rock near the rim of the canyon, and waited.

Wheeler, the young bloodhound, lay in the snow at his feet. Wheeler was huddled into a ball. The only thing that kept him from putting his head down and going to sleep was a guilty conscience. He knew he ought to be down in the canyon looking for the Hon track with Penelope and Luke.

From time to time a violent shiver raced through his body.

The two horses were back in the jack pines, standing with listless patience. They were breathing quietly now, and the sharp air was caking the sweat on their bodies.

Billy had lost interest in the hunt a long time ago, and he was tired. He was too tired to fight the anger and resentment that was brewing inside him. He just sat there, letting his emotions get the better of him, and waited.

He was waiting for Monk Taylor to come out of that canyon and call it a day and go home.

They should have quit a long time ago. They should have quit way back there on Pinch Creek when they saw that the lion was still twenty-four hours ahead of them. That would have been the smart thing to do. Anybody could have seen that that lion wasn’t going to hole up.

Did Monk Taylor do that? No. Hell, no. He’d had a chance to round up the dogs while they were working out the track on the bare hillside, but he hadn’t taken it. He hadn’t considered it. He hadn’t even asked Billy what he wanted to do. He’d just beelined it for the southern slope, found the track where the snow began, yelled up the dogs, and away they’d gone—like they had all day and a fresh track. So here they were, the hell-and-gone up in the Gold Mountain country, fifteen miles from home, and half an hour of daylight.

That’s the way it always turned out. This goddamn lion-hunting. What did Monk see in it anyway? Why did he have to go at it like he was fighting a war or something? Why couldn’t he take it easy, the way other hunters did, and not try to break his fool neck every time he went out? And why did he—Billy Trott—tag along every chance he got? He was damned if he knew.

Billy zipped his windbreaker and swore out loud. Wheeler turned his head to look at him. Billy said, Not you, you dumb son of a bitch, and kicked some snow into the dog’s face.

As usual in a situation like this, Billy didn’t do what he wanted to do. He wanted to walk over to the canyon rim and yell for Monk—yell and tell him for Christ’s sake to come out of there and get off the mountain before it got dark. Or better still—he wanted to get on his horse and go home, and to hell with Monk.

But he didn’t do either of these things. He sat on the rock and waited—waited for Monk to come out of the canyon in his own good time, waited for Monk to come and say they might as well go home, waited for Monk to be the one to holler quits.

Wheeler heard something and cocked his ears.

Penelope came out of the canyon. Very deliberately, she got herself over the rim and stood for a moment, looking around. Then she saw a track in the snow and trotted to it hopefully, and smelled it, and discovered it was Wheeler’s track. Then she sat down and waited for Monk to come and tell her what to do. She was ready to quit any time he was.

Monk came up. He was breathing hard and sweating. He wiped his face with his sleeve and lit a cigarette. Then he stood on the rim, as far out as he could, and looked down to the place he had come from.

Billy got madder just looking at him. It was time to go home. It was way past time.

What goes on down there? Billy was casual.

Monk shrugged his shoulders and continued to gaze into the canyon. He pulled a fast one someplace.

How so?

He stayed on the rocks. He didn’t lay up.

What made you think he would? It was Billy’s routine in a mood like this to argue with Monk, just to show him he still had a mind of his own.

Monk had turned and was looking at Penelope. Penelope was still sitting in the snow, watching every move he made.

Monk laughed. You want to go home, don’t you, Penelope?

It wouldn’t be such a bad idea, said Billy. It’s getting kind of late. He stood up. Where’s Luke?

Monk was looking into the canyon again. I guess he’ll be up pretty soon. He’s probably heading this way now.

Sure, said Billy. Sure. He couldn’t keep the petulance out of his voice.

Monk spoke to Penelope. Let’s go home. It was as though he’d just thought of the idea.

We might as well. Billy was halfway to his horse. Ain’t you going to call up Luke?

I’ll call him when we’re all set.

It don’t matter. He can get himself home. Billy was afraid something would happen to delay getting off the mountain.

Something did happen.

Billy was in the saddle. Monk was cinching his horse. And then Luke sounded off. A short muffled bark. Then one long nose-in-the-air bay that caromed up through the walls of the canyon.

Shit, said Billy.

Monk gave the strap a hitch and vaulted into the saddle. Where was that?

I wouldn’t know.

Monk sat tense. When nothing happened, he looked at Billy. Listen. These two dogs can’t take it any more. Why don’t you start home with ‘em? I’ll wait and see what Luke’s up to.

Billy started to argue. He wanted Monk to come too. Not because he was scared to go alone in the dark. Just because he wanted company on the dark ride. But he didn’t have a chance to argue. Luke bayed again.

I’ll see you later. Monk kicked his horse and was gone, racing along the rim.

Billy started home.

Monk didn’t stop to listen for Luke. Following the rim, he careened along for half a mile. Then he found the lion track. It came out of the canyon and angled across the flat, heading for the peaks.

It was still a walking track. It was still yesterday’s track. Luke hadn’t jumped him down there.

There wasn’t any use.

Somewhere below, much closer than before, Luke bayed again. He was coming up the trail.

Monk flung himself off the pony. Then he crouched behind a log, close to the track, and waited.

Huffing and chuffing in short labored breaths, Luke clambered over the rim and came lumbering towards him. When he came by the log, Monk made a lunge and grabbed for the collar. Luke yelped once, and fought.

Monk clutched the collar and got his arm around the dog’s body, arid then, quite suddenly, Luke gave up. Panting and heaving, he lay flat out on the snow.

Monk was panting too. Tm sorry, Luke, he said. I’m very sorry. But that’s the only way I know of to get you off a track. I don’t like it any more than you do. Not a bit. He shifted so that he was sitting cross-legged. Then he pulled Luke into his lap and started talking to him again. The trouble with you is—you don’t know when to quit. That’s the trouble with you. That’s the big trouble. You just don’t know when to knock off. That’s all."

He massaged Luke’s head and throat, kneading his fingers through the folds of skin around the neck and the base of the ears. And all the while he kept talking, partly to himself, partly to Luke, not knowing what he was saying, just saying the first thing that came to mind. Luker, the Puker. That’s what they call him. Luker, the Puker. The biggest no-account black bastard of a hound-dog in the country. That’s what you are, isn’t it, Luker? Isn’t it? A big-old fat-old black bastard of a hound-dog. You run all day, and you get all pooped out, and you get in a big surl when somebody makes you quit. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that right, you old bastard? What’ve you got against lions anyway? What’d a lion ever do to you to make you act that way? What’s so terrible about a lion that you’ve gotta go hog-wild every time you smell one? Huh?

Luke lay with his head in Monk’s lap.

Monk curled the hound up in his lap, and went on talking. "We’ll get that old bugger yet. You just wait and see.

Well get him. We always have before. Well come back and well trail him all the way to Utah if we have to. You just wait and see. Well find him and we’ll pin his ears back. That’s what we’ll do. You just wait and see. And when we do that, we’ll celebrate. We’ll celebrate in a big way. You’re damn right we will. You know what I’ll give you, Luker? You know what? I’ll give you a whole shoulder of venison. The whole shoulder. That’s right. I’ll give you the whole shoulder. And if you say that’s the way you want it, I’ll bury it for a month in the manure pile. If you like it better that way, it’s O.K. with me."

He laughed. Old Luker, the Puker.

Luke didn’t move.

You just lie there and don’t give a damn, don’t you, Luker? You don’t give a good goddamn for anything or anybody, do you? You’ve got everything, haven’t you, Luker? You’ve got everything and you don’t give any of it away. You know everything you need to know and you don’t worry about the other stuff, do you? You just go after lions and that’s the end of it, isn’t it?

In the darkness Monk leaned over to see if Luke was asleep.

He was.

Monk came off the dark, wooded hillside and rode into the open valley of the Rincon.

The horse could take care of himself now.

He lit a cigarette and looked down at Luke. Luke was wrapped in a slicker and sprawled across the saddle with his head cradled in Monk’s arm. He hadn’t moved since Monk had put him there.

How’re you doing, Luker?

No response.

You ought to be getting kind of used to it by this time. You do it often enough...When the day comes that you can get yourself home, this horse is going to be one happy horse. I have an idea this horse doesn’t go for you in a big way. Do you, horse? What’s your considered opinion of this black bastard you’re carrying? Tell me.

He waited a moment, then nudged Luke. Horse is pissed off. Won’t answer.

Looping the reins over the horn, he buried his hand in the pocket of the windbreaker, and lounged back in the saddle. The pony shuffled along, kicking forward a spray of dry snow with each step of its tired feet.

The silence of winter night was on the foothills—the bleak silence of cold. The valley of the Rincon stretched ahead, gray, unbroken, somber. Behind, close at hand, loomed the mass of Gold Mountain, and beyond Gold Mountain were the peaks of the Sangre de Cristos, black and far away.

Somewhere back there—somewhere, anywhere, nowhere—was a lion. It might be lying up in some sheltered place, unmindful of the day’s pursuit, or it might be sleuthing a band of deer, or it might be on the move, threading its uncanny way on some private purpose.

Sometime, not tomorrow—maybe the next day or the day after—the hunter would come back with fresh enthusiasm and take up again the violent chase. Sometime. Surely sometime. Surely soon. But there was no hurry. The chase was over for now, and he was going home.

He lounged in the saddle, feeling Luke warm against his belly, and was conscious of the rhythmic pfft-pfft-pfft as the pony sprayed the snow with his feet.

And then the rhythm ceased, and he glanced down. The pony was following a trail—the trail of Billy Trott.

Unconsciously, Monk kicked the horse with both feet. It annoyed him vaguely, unreasonably, to know that someone else was abroad in the foothills.

He buttoned his shirt collar, picked up the reins, and jabbed the pony into a trot.

Billy Trott was in the corral when Monk rode up.

Billy had recovered his good humor. The first thing he had done when he got home was to have a neat drink of whisky. That and the prospect of at least two days without hunting was enough.

Where’s his hide? he asked.

Monk laughed. He lowered Luke to the ground and dismounted. I let him keep it. These cold nights—you know?

Monk unsaddled while Billy took the bridle off.

You going again tomorrow? Billy knew damn well Monk was going again tomorrow.

We’d have to take the dogs in wheel chairs. Monk picked Luke out of the snow and started for the stable.

Billy wanted Monk to know that he was eager to go. There’s the Doctor, he said. He’s fresh as a daisy.

‘The Doctor’s no good alone." Monk opened the kennel door, and the Doctor charged out. He was a lean red hound with huge shoulders and a square head.

Monk put Luke on the straw beside Penelope and Wheeler. Then he shut the door and went to the storeroom. The Doctor followed, barking and jumping on him.

You better feed that dog before you put him back, said Billy. He’ll grab the meat away from those other dogs.

Good idea. Monk took down a shoulder of venison and started to carve hunks from it. He threw a hunk to the Doctor. The Doctor bolted it down and waited for more.

Monk carved three more hunks. Then he cut out the bone and went back to the kennel.

He gave the bone to the Doctor. Then he woke up Luke and put a hunk under his nose. Then he did the same for Penelope and Wheeler.

Luke lay on his belly with his hind legs stretched out behind him and mouthed the meat, trying to get it on his back teeth. His eyes were shut and he was half-asleep.

Monk reached down and pulled his ears. Old Luker, the Puker, he said. Then he shut the kennel door and went into the house.

Old Junie, the housekeeper, was sitting in a chair in the far corner of the kitchen. She was patching one of Billy’s shirts and she didn’t look up.

How are you, Junie?

I’m still alive. Junie put a stitch in the shirt.

That’s fine, Junie. I’m glad to hear it. Monk went through the kitchen and into the library. He took a bottle off the shelf. Then he got a glass, opened the window to pick off an icicle, put the icicle in the glass, half filled it with whisky, and went into his bedroom.

Ten minutes later he came out singing. He made himself another drink and went into the kitchen.

Junie, what do you recommend for supper?

Junie put two stitches in the shirt before she answered. Tain’t no difference. Eating’s just one of them things you gotta do to keep a-goin’. Don’t make no difference.

Just what I’ve always said myself. Precisely my sentiments. He took a pot of stew from the icebox and put it in a double boiler on the stove. Then he got out the breadboard and began to

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