The sound was faint and would have been undetectable by human ears, but the cougar immediately deduced from its line of approach that the machine was flying directly toward her range. Even as she listened, the motor’s tone and pitch grew perceptibly louder. The aircraft would soon be flying over the valley. She began to hurry, bounding from rock to rock and on several occasions almost losing her footing on the snowy cover. She had not yet reached the bottom when the Cessna swooped low over the opening. Startled and fearful, she slipped and rolled into a clump of young firs, then, disregardig her bruises, she immediately leaped to her feet and dashed across the opening, disappearing into her shelter as the aircraft started to rise in preparation for another pass.
Inside the den, the kittens were huddled together, terrified by the engine’s roar, which filled the valley and reverberated within the confines of the cave. Lashing her tail, the pyma walked to her young, lowered her muzzle, and licked them. She grunted, giving them the order to stay; then she turned and padded to the opening, there to stand monitoring the noisy machine that continued to fly over the meadow. She remained on guard just inside the doorway until the noise of the Cessna’s motor had faded to a low throb, then, dropping to the ground, she slithered out of the cave, moving into the open as slowly and carefully as she would had she been stalking prey.
Using all her faculties, she next checked the meadow for signs of man’s occupancy, but only the lingering odor of exhaust fumes remained to mark the passage of her enemies. Still feeling apprehensive, yet emboldened by the absence of hostile signs, she rose to all fours and took three strides into the open, there to stand listening intently. After some moments, she became almost entirely sure that no danger existed in the immediate vicinity of the meadow. The sound of the Cessna had by now faded completely yet she remained still, ears pricked forward, nose twitching. Waiting.
“The White Puma” (c) 1990 by R.D. Lawrence, ISBN 0-8050-0685-0