The day was bright and beautiful as the train left town, but as it climbed the mountain and entered the tall timber, shadows fell over the snow-covered ground to make it appear almost blue. The air was still, with only the chug, chug of the engine and clatter of the wheels to be heard.
Deeper into the woods the shadows deepened and darkened even more. The fireman came into the caboose to tell the family not to be alarmed by anything they might hear. Before he could say more it happened-a most terrifying scream-like nothing they had ever heard before-followed by a low, rumbling growl that could only come from some savage beast, they thought.
The train slowed down. The fireman leaned far out the door to throw a package into the brush. Then he explained that he was “feeding the kitty.” The kitty was a huge golden panther. On each trip to camp this fireman would take from his boarding house a package of scraps. The panther came to look for this treat, always at the same spot. His scream was a scream of welcome, the fireman told them, and he’s telling us that we are now entering his domain.
Frances Irene Smith Hart, 1894-1979