When Laura and Mary asked him for a story, he would sit them on his knees and tickle their faces with his long whiskers and beard until they laughed aloud. His eyes were blue and happy.
One night father looked at Black Susan, the cat, stretching herself before the fire and running her claws out and in. Then he said:
Did you know that a panther is a cat? It is a great, big wild-cat!"
"No," said Laura.
"Well, it is," said her father. "Just imagine Black Susan bigger than Jack the dog. Imagine her being fiercer and scarier than Jack when he growls. Then she would be just like a panther."
He settled Laura and Mary more comfortably on his knees and he said, "I'll tell you about Grandfather and the panther."
"Your grandfather?" Laura asked.
"No, Laura, your grandfather, my father."
"Oh," Laura said and she wriggled closer against her father's arm. She knew her grandfather. He lived far away in the forest, in a big wooden log house.
Your grandfather went to town one day and was late starting home. It was dark when he came riding his horse through the forest. It was so dark that he could hardly see the road and when he heard a panther scream he was frightened, because he had no gun.
"How does a panther scream?" Laura asked.
"Like a woman," her father said. "Like this." Then he made a scary scream. Laura and Mary shivered with terror. But her mother jumped in her chair and said, "Mercy, Charles!" But Laura and Mary loved to be scared like that.
The Little House in the Big Woods
Chapter 1 - Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1 - Part 2: Wolves in the Night
Chapter 1 - Part 4: Smoked Meat
Chapter 1 - Part 5: Food for Winter
Chapter 1 - Part 6: Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 7: After Butchering Time
Chapter 1 - Part 9: Winter Night
Chapter 1 - Part 10: About the Author & Where to Find the Book
Chapter 2 - Part 1: Winter Days and Winter Nights
Chapter 2 - Part 2: Jack Frost
Chapter 2 - Part 3: Laura and Mary Helped Mother with the Housework
Chapter 2 - Part 4: Churn on Thursday
Chapter 2 - Part 5: The Best Time of All
Chapter 2 - Part 6: Her Father Began to Play his Fiddle and Sing
Chapter 2 - Part 7: Father Told Stories
Chapter 2 - Part 8 - The Story of Grandfather and the Panther
by John Larrysson
A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for more than a decade.