Lobo, the king of cumimpaw

I

Cumimpaw is a large cattle region in northern New Mexico. It is a land of rich pastures, of great flocks and herds, a land of running streams, which at last unite in the Currumpaw River. And the king of this whole region was an old gray wolf. Old Lobo or the king, as the Mexicans called him, was the leader of a pack of gray wolves. All the shepherds and ranchmen of Currumpaw knew him well, and wherever he appeared with his pack of wolves, there was terror among the cattle, and anger and despair among the ranchmen.

Lobo was a giant among wolves, and he was very cunning and strong. His voice at night was well-known. If an ordinary wolf howled all night, the shepherds paid little attention to it. But when they heard the deep roar of the old king in the valley, they prepared to learn in the morning that some of their cattle and sheep were missing.

Old Lobo’s hand was a small one. Usually, the king of a band of wolves has many followers, hut perhaps other wolves were afraid of Lobo’s fierce temper and kept away. However, the ranchmen and shepherds knew that Lobo had only five followers during the last year of his life. Each of these was a wolf of great size, but not one of them could compare with their leader in size and courage. One of the band was a beautiful white wolf that the Mexicans called Blanca. These wolves were well-known to the cowboys, the shepherds and the hunters. Every ranchman was ready to give a big sum of money for the head of any one of the pack, but Lobo and his followers defied all hunters, all poisons and all kinds of traps. For five years they continued to kill at least one cow a day. The band, therefore, killed more than two thousand of the best cattle, for the ranchmen knew too well that Lobo chose only the best.

The old idea that a wolf was always hungry and was ready to eat anything was very far from the truth in this case, for these wolves always looked Well-fed. In fact, they were very particular about what they ate. They chose for their daily food the meat of a young cow, not more than a year old, which they killed themselves and ate while the meat was still fresh. An old bull or cow they did not touch, and it was quite clear that they did not like veal or horse-meat. It was also known that they were not fond of mutton, although they sometimes killed sheep just for the fun of it. But they did not eat their meat.

These are examples of many stories which the ranchmen told me about Lobo and his band. Each year the ranchmen and hunters tried many new devices to catch or to kill Lobo, but all their attempts were in vain. Then the ranch-leader, always detected the poison and never touched it. One thing only this great wolf feared, and that was a gun. And knowing that all men in this region carried guns, he never attacked a human being. Indeed, Lobo and his band ran away as fast as they could whenever, in the daytime, they saw a man, even if he was a great distance from them. And since Lobo did not allow his pack to eat anything which they themselves did not kill, they were not afraid of any poison.

Here is a story that a cowboy told me.

One night the cowboy heard the call of old Lobo, which he knew so well. He approached very quietly, and found the pack of wolves in a hollow. In the hollow was also a small herd of cattle. Lobo sat outside the hollow on a small bill, watching, while the other wolves tried to drive out a young cow from the middle of the herd.



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Lobo, the king of cumimpaw