Other living creatures they saw few, save the coyotes that hung on their flanks, the jackrabbits, the prairie dogs, the birds strangely cheerful in the face of the mysterious and solemn desert. Once in a while a pair of mounted men jog-trotted slowly here and there among them. They gave way to right and left, swinging in the free trot of untamed creatures, their heads high, their eyes wild.
"I'll tell you what it is, Hennery," said pa, as he breathed hard, as though he had been running a foot race, "this rabbit drive reminds me of the way the rich corporations look upon the poor people, just as we look upon the jackrabbits.
Their experience had taught them that to chase jackrabbits in the open with any motive ulterior to that of healthful exercise and the joy of seeing the blame things run was as vain and as puppish as chasing one's tail.
East to the foot of Black Mountain, and north and south without counting, are the burrows of small rodents, rat and squirrel kind. Under the sage are the shallow forms of the jackrabbits, and in the dry banks of washes, and among the strewn fragments of black rock, lairs of bobcat, fox, and coyote.
He found a place to drink, and drank thirstily, finding no fault with the alkali water or the sediment in it. He washed his hands and face in it, wet his hair and went on. There came three more spurs of mountain to cross, all unlikely for game, each one hotter and dryer than the others. Twice he had seen a coyote; he had seen two or three gaunt, hungry-looking jackrabbits.
We pity a single jackrabbit, and he runs when he sees us, and seems to say: 'Please, mister, let me alone, and let me nibble around and eat the stuff you do not want, and we drive them into a bunch, the way the rich and mean iron-handed trusts drive the people, and then we turn in and club them with the ax handle of graft and greed, and we keep our power over them, if enough are killed off so we are in the majority, but the jackrabbits that escape the drive keep on breeding, like the poor people that the trusts try to exterminate.
Cottontails and jackrabbits darted across the path and into hiding, an occasional harmless snake lifted its head to survey them and then glided away among the rocks, and twice a startled covey of quail rose from the underbrush and vanished in the blue mountain air. Oh, it was grand! How could she ever have thought the desert lonely and barren and hideous!
When about twelve years of age I got hold of two greyhounds, sisters, named "Flora" and "Queen." During the winter time I spent much time chasing jackrabbits. In summer time the ground got so hard that the dogs would not run. The ground hurt their feet. But in the winter we had great sport. There was an immense open plain east of our property, miles long and miles wide, and level as a floor.
When the Captain proposed a new vehicle with easier springs and less noise, a wail of protest arose from many and distant places. The Invigorator still fulfills its function. Now there are three major topics on the Ranch: namely, ducks, quail, and ponies. In addition to these are five of minor interest: the mail, cattle, jackrabbits, coons, and wildcats.
As the sixth turned over, he executed a mad struggle, accomplished a flying leap over the front wheel, was rolled over and over by the forward momentum of the moving vehicle, scrambled to his feet, pounced on that rabbit, and most everlastingly and savagely shook it up! Then Uncle Jim descended and methodically and dispassionately licked the dog. Jackrabbits were good small-rifle game.