Sweaty, and panting, and raucous, quick to jibe, the crowd teems, breaks apart, and amasses again. Two farmers, brothers and neighbors, then five, then nine. Word spills to cousins of assorted degree, black-eyed wives.
Some run ahead with the ribby hounds.
Some bring scrapers, crocks, knives, jars, and bags, that they might catch every part: hide, organ, sinew, fat.
When they down the calf at the salt lick near Valley Fork, some fall back to claim shares of the smaller prize, the softer meat.
The remaining pursuers swell in number as they drive the distressed mother to Mingo Run. Leaves and strings of drool in her wiry black beard, she stumbles through the laurel brakes on the Tolly place. The dense maze of vines hems and holds her fast. A thousand heaving pounds of fear and heat, if a hunter creeps close for a good shot, braves her trampled path.
One wants pemmican and tongue.
One wants her hooves for glue.
One wants rib-meat in his pan, her lush dark hide for a robe to wrap around his beloved on their bed of hay.