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05 March 2007 @ 03:03 pm
Part Two  
 The exciting conclusion!

 Title: Of Memories and Hyenas.
 Author/Artist: Nate The Ape/ Zaphod236
 Rating: PG
 Warnings: As before, nothing offensive.
 Summary: As mentioned before, a coming-of age event for our favorite stowaway. 
 Disclaimer: I can't pretend to take credit for anything.

There was something about walking through the African bush—at night—dragging half an impala carcass, that was just slightly unnerving, and Jimmy felt it acutely as he and Hayes walked through the mixture of red oat grass and bushy staghorn acacias. Right behind them walked two local Swahili men, Moro and his uncle Hilali, Moro acting as gunbearer in case they suddenly encountered any dangerous predators, while Hilali held two long, thick poles over one shoulder and two large rope nets slung over the other. In a large pouch at his waist, Hayes held the rest of the necessary capture supplies, a long wire snare, a bunch of rags, and a full bottle of chloroform.
 For his part, Jimmy held out a copper-sheathed flashlight in front of them with one hand while holding onto one of the impala’s horns with the other. During cleaning, all the large muscles of the shoulders and lower neck had been removed for their own consumption, and Jimmy had wondered for a bit if there would even be enough left over to interest the hyenas. But Mister Hayes had assured him that there was, reminding him that hyenas loved the bones every bit as much as the meat. That made Jimmy think back even further to when Hayes had told him once that a hyena’s jaws were so strong that they could crunch up a horse’s bones just like they were lollipops.
 And this was the carnivore that he was going to capture tonight. Wonderful indeed. He must’ve let his fear start to get to him then, for Mister Hayes suddenly said, not at all unkindly, “It’s alright Jimmy. Just take this night one step at a time and play your cards right. The first time is always the hardest, then it gets easier.” Moro chimed in, “Not to worry, young bwana. Old fisi isn’t as terrible as he may seem.” 
 But what if he is? Jimmy silently thought. With my luck, the first hyena we see will instantly try to tear out my throat. I’ll bet my right hand on it.
 As the four men kept walking, Jimmy’s flashlight beam caught the glowing eyes of a whole host of animals. There were the red eyes of bush babies, looking like Christmas tree lights as they bounced around in the branches. Once they came open a whole herd of wildebeest, yellow eyes crazily bucking and bobbing as the herd wheeled and thundered away. The pea-green ones of springhares could be seen as the huge rodents hopped through the grass, and once the men came across a mother porcupine and her baby as they grazed. But thankfully, they didn’t see any eyeshine that was high and close together-the sign of a lion or other big predator.
    After dragging the half-impala about four miles from the camp, Hayes told the group, “We can stop now. This is as good a place as any.” Relived and even more frightened at the same time, Jimmy let go of the impala and lifted up his blue sailor’s cap, running a hand through his blond hair. The gesture involuntarily made him think of how easily a hyena could crack his skull in its jaws like an egg, and he had to gently bite his lip to calm down again.
 His attention was caught again by Mr. Hayes, who commanded, “Leave the bait right there Jimmy. Let’s make a blind now.” Although Hayes wouldn’t let him handle or shoot firearms of any sort, the youth did keep a knife in his belt, if only for protection when off the Venture, and he used it now to assist a hatchet-wielding Hayes, Moro, and Hilali in setting up a thick screen of branches and brush between two wild olive trees.
 Jimmy was certainly no slacker, but this time he was actually very grateful to be doing hard labor, or kazi as the Africans called it. It kept his mind focused, unable to wander off into the terrifying possibilities of what he would be doing next.
   But all too soon, the blind was complete, and the fear of his impending first predator capture hit Jimmy again like a train. Appraising the situation, Mr. Hayes turned to Jimmy and told him about the capture plan. “Jimmy, you see that stone in front of us? “
   “Yes Mister Hayes, I sure do.”
 “Good. Now I’ll put the base of the snare around it while the loop will be close to the bait. When a hyena comes, you’ll wait until it steps in that loop. When it does, it’ll be caught and trapped. Then, I’ll give you a rag soaked with chloroform and you’ll rush forward to throw that on the hyena’s head. It should be senseless within seconds.” Should be.
 “Remember Jimmy,” said Hayes in a much quieter but unbending voice, looking into his young admirer’s blue eyes, “It’s perfectly okay to be scared. But the only way you can get hurt is if you panic or lose your nerve to begin with. Also, there’s no need to inflate yourself or try to impress us. Only be brave if you have to be. Is that clear?”
 “As a diamond sir,” Jimmy answered meekly.
 “I know you’ll do just fine,” Hayes gently said.
   With that, all four men got behind the blind, peering through the brush at the bait just a few dozen yards away. In the East African night, the sounds of nature soon replaced the noises of men. Treefrogs croaked out love songs. Owls hooted, while crickets and katydids shrilled from branches and the ground. Somewhere fairly far away, a lion roared, giving out deep, thunderous groans. Jackals gave out screaming, skirling barks. And of course-Jimmy could hear them all too well-were the still distant but always inescapable whoops and cackling giggles of hyenas.
 Sometimes the sheer waiting for a feared event to take place is every bit as harrowing as when it actually happens, or oftentimes even more so, and Jimmy tried not to let it get under his skin too deeply. Trying hard to distract himself, he just listened for a while to the chirping, groaning, and peeping of the frogs, a sound that he’d always enjoyed hearing, no matter which far-flung corner of the globe he was currently located at.
 Besides, he knew from experience that frogs always went silent when predators were around, so as long as they were calling, it was reassuring. I wonder if hyenas eat frogs? Jimmy thought, suddenly wanting to slap himself for conjuring up the one thing he was trying not to dwell on right now. You idiot.
 “Sounds like ten thousand boys running a stick down an endless picket fence, doesn’t it Jimmy?” Hayes softly said in reference to the frogs, a rare smile curving the first mate’s lips. Jimmy chuckled, for it kind of did, responding with “You bet, Mr. Hayes.”
Silence ruled between all four again, and to keep himself from falling victim to his fear, Jimmy began to hum a familiar tune very softly.
I went to the animal fair
The birds and beasts were there
The big baboon, by the light of the moon
Was combing her auburn hair.
 Definitely some good moonlight for a lady to dress her hair by tonight, Jimmy thought, looking up at the waxing silver disc above him, occasionally obscured by scudding clouds. Somehow, he was able to distract himself and keep the crushing fear in check.
   For maybe forty minutes or so-Jimmy couldn’t tell-the four sat behind the scrub blind, listening to the sounds of the African bush and waiting for a shambling brown-gray shape to show up. Then a silver-backed jackal cautiously came into view, his mate close behind. Only about the size of a large fox, both animals began quickly tearing at the meat, bolting down small chunks.
 “They’re eating our bait. Should we drive them away Mr. Hayes?” Jimmy queried.
 Hayes shook his head. “Jackals and hyenas are two of a kind Jimmy. When you see one, the other will show up shortly.”
   And indeed, now some of the whoops and laughing were coming steadily closer. Like something worthy of hell’s glee club, Jimmy thought apprehensively. Any moment now. The calls got closer and closer and closer. Now, as if the needle had suddenly been lifted from a phonograph record, the calls of the cicadas, crickets, and frogs just stopped completely dead. Their silence was as shocking as a scream.
 Not surprisingly, Jimmy wanted so badly to just run away as fast as he could, but managed to keep looking at the snare and keep sitting down. The horrid whooping and satanic laughter was almost on top of them now.
 Then, with an amazing swiftness, a huge female hyena, her body rocking up and down as she ran, came into view. She had to weigh at least as much as Jimmy, maybe 160 pounds. She looked around briefly, and her intense brown eyes gave him a chill. Several other hyenas were shambling out of the night now, crazily whooping. Even the way the animals loped along was disturbing.
 Not sensing any danger, the first hyena, probably the leader, lowered her massive head and immediately started tearing at the impala’s neck. The other hyenas, maybe five or six in all, joined her, and they fell upon the carcass. Then it was lost to view as the spotted hyenas, Africa’s chuckling hunters, the hunchbacked gangsters of the plains, eaters of carrion and killers of the antelope, enveloped the bait in a scrum of spotted gray bodies.
 They snapped bones like twigs in their massive jaws, fought and snarled among themselves, and raised their heads to bolt down bites of ragged flesh, their ears and large eyes making them look like ugly teddy bears. The two jackals wisely gave the hyenas their space. And all the time, that ear-splitting, bloodcurdling, blasted, make-you-want-to-wet-yourself noise!
 It was an insane woman being slowly sawed in half while being roasted alive at the same time. It was the sounds of demons sadistically celebrating as they tortured the damned in hell. It was the closest thing to what the call of an actual werewolf would be, the laugh of the most terrible witch.
 All of a sudden, like it was some inevitable climax to the hyena’s profane calling, there was a loud, high-pitched scream of terror, and Hayes switched on the flashlight, motioning to Jimmy. As the other hyenas ran in fear, their eyes ignited a glowing yellow from the flashlight’s beam, one hyena, the first that had arrived, screamed and thrashed in the copper-wire snare, caught by a hind leg.
 There was a wet sound, as Hayes opened the big brown bottle of chloroform and gently poured some onto a yellowish rag. Then he held the dripping cloth out to Jimmy. For a second, time seemed to stop, and Jimmy’s heart seemed to almost come out of his chest with terror.
Oh blessed Mary and Jesus, he thought, here we go.
He could take the rag and do his job. He could flat-out refuse and live with the humiliation. He could take the rag to appease Mr. Hayes, then fling it away before reaching the hyena.
 The African savannah and the partly moonlit night seemed to swirl crazily about him. Jimmy stole a quick glance over his shoulder at the hyena. Even as she thrashed and tried to chew through the thick wire snare, her glowing eyes seemed to be mocking him, saying Which one, which one, which ooonnnnnnneeeeee!!! What’cha going do, lily-hearted kid?
 He looked back equally quickly at Mr. Hayes’ brown eyes. No thoughts came to Jimmy’s mind this time, just one concept. Faith.
   Jimmy moved then, and his turn of speed was too quick to follow.
   As he ran right for the big hyena, he was totally operating on adrenaline now. Seeing his rushing man-form coming at her, the hyena ran as far as the snare would allow, quickly being jerked off her feet. With nowhere to go, the hyena whipped around and crouched in a defensive posture, ears laid back and teeth bared in a snarling gape.
 Fierce as she looked, this gave Jimmy the perfect chance to throw the rag onto her muzzle-until the hyena did something unexpected. Suddenly, the hyena leapt out of her defensive stance and right at him, a tan-yellow rocket of muscle and ivory teeth. Taken aback, a horrified Jimmy had no time to run as the carnivore barreled into his body, knocking him to the ground. He forgot about reason. He forgot about the rag he’d had, soaked with the stuff of dreams.
 She tried to rip into his belly with those descending fangs. Desperately, he punched the hyena in the head as hard as he could. Screaming in surprise and pain, the hyena backed off for a second, long enough for Jimmy to sit up. Then she bored back in again.
 This time Jimmy grabbed the predator by the ears, shoving up into the animal’s lower jaw at the same time with his knee. He could smell the hyena’s horribly rank breath, and felt an indescribable chill come over him as he looked into her eyes.
 Hello there Jezebel, he crazily thought. Was Lucifer just finally way too hard on you and hell too hot for your liking after old Elijah had you take that tumble?
 Then there was a shout. “Jimmy!!” The hyena backed off again, and there was a wet object crumpled in his hand. He knew what it was, and threw it over the creature’s muzzle.
   As he stood back up, Jimmy watched the hyena briefly paw at her face, shake her head, and thrash around. Then she suddenly collapsed, kicked several times, and her grating screams of distress were cut off seconds before she went limp. The chloroform had done its job.
   Hilali went and removed the snare from the hyena’s leg, but no one else moved. Jimmy just hyperventilated for a couple minutes, shaking all over as Hayes silently stood by him, his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
   Finally, Jimmy spoke. “Thanks Mr. Hayes for helping me. That beast would’ve hurt me bad if it wasn’t for you.”
   “No need Jimmy,” Hayes quietly said. “I’d have willingly done that even if it had been a lion. We look out for each other around here.”
   All Jimmy could do was smile under his blue cap. Sometimes though, in the face of such loyalty and proof of friendship, words didn’t need to be spoken.
   The cool, intellectual part of his brain told him that more work had to be done now that the hyena was safely drugged. Turning back to Hayes, he stated, “Well Mr. Hayes, you’ve told me before that a cornered animal is a dangerous animal, and now I see that you certainly weren’t joking,” nervously laughing to deal with his frightening encounter. “But now what do we do with the hyena?”
 Hayes grinned, then answered, “Well Jimmy, let’s just carry it behind the blind for now. Remember, Mills ordered four hyenas for his menagerie, so it would be nice if we could fill half the order tonight.”
 Fine and dandy, Jimmy sarcastically thought, I get to go through this blasted experience again soon. There was a question he had to ask first through, both to stall and satisfy his curiosity. “But Mr. Hayes, Mills asked for two female and two male hyenas. Which one is this exactly? It’s pretty difficult when their-parts-are so similar.”
   Although he couldn’t have known that it was due to huge levels of male hormones, Jimmy did know that female hyenas had mock phalluses, making it frustratingly difficult to tell the sex of one they’d trapped. He remembered vividly and with amusement how one supposed “male” being shipped on the Venture had one day given birth to two cubs!
   Not surprisingly, many, many people on the street believed-as he once had-that the spotted hyena was a hermaphrodite, part male and part female. Some even thought that if you put two male or two female hyenas in a cage, one would become the opposite sex so they could mate. Nowadays though, he was pretty confident that there were guys and girls, and that the hyenas knew which one they were perfectly well.
   Meanwhile, Mr. Hayes had been looking at the animal’s belly. “You can’t always say for sure with these things Jimmy, but I see teats on this one. So it’s almost certainly a female. But let’s get her behind the blind. I’ll pick her up by the back legs, while you take the front ones, and we’ll put her in the net.”
 Knowing what they meant to do, Moro had come over with one of the nets, opening it up on the ground. It wasn’t far to move the hyena, and once she was in the net, Mr. Hayes slung it over his shoulders and carried it to the blind, while Moro helped support the body of their drugged prisoner.
 Hyenas might be ugly, but they are very wise, smart creatures, and everyone knew that it was unlikely the same animals would come back after one of their companions had just been caught. They’d probably have to wait another long while for some more to come. Just in case, Hilali attached the snare to a different place, a sapling growing near the now well-chewed impala frame.
 Still, Jimmy was aware that they’d probably have to either wait an even longer time now or even give up and try again next night. So it was very surprising then, when only ten minutes after they’d settled down, a solitary hyena very apprehensively came out of the night. It was a yearling animal, silver-gray with heavy black spotting, and it whooped very softly and quietly, as if it was trying to find someone nearby. It stepped forward, then backpedaled, lightly cackling in agitation. Doing this again and again, the nervous yearling approached the half-eaten bait, and then began cautiously tearing at the flesh and cracking bones, whooping now and again as it fed, sometimes pausing to sniff the ground intently.
 Suddenly Jimmy just knew somehow, the realization washing over him like a rouge wave. This yearling wasn’t here only to eat. It was here because its mother had just disappeared at this spot, and it didn’t know where she was. They’d captured the young hyena’s mother.
 As nasty and uncouth as hyenas were, he couldn’t help suddenly feeling pity for the young animal. It didn’t even have a body or blood to indicate what had happened to its mom, and so no way of understanding what had happened to her. And if they didn’t catch the animal, it’d be wondering for the rest of its life, probably thinking that mother was either dead or worse, didn’t want to know it anymore.
 Now, unlike before, Jimmy was actually hoping that they’d catch the poor beast, so it could be with its mother again and not have to always wonder. As he watched in anticipation, the young hyena continued to eat, cracking up bones in those powerful jaws, giving its inquiring whoops now and again to the night, and hopefully sniffing the air.
 Then, it stepped right in the snare, which instantly tightened around its foreleg. As its mother had done, the yearling screamed in terror, thrashing around and tugging backward for all it was worth.
 Again, there was a sound of liquid pouring, and Mr. Hayes offered the young man another chemical-laced rag. Jimmy took it, but hesitated again. Would the hyena try to attack him like its mother had? Maybe it wouldn’t if he acted even quicker than before, Jimmy optimistically thought.
   When Jimmy showed himself, the young hyena, eyes like yellow coals, began screaming even louder. It too, tried to move away as far as the snare would allow. But instead of lashing out as he ran up to it, this hyena just lowered its head and cowered in surrender.
 The soaked rag was thrown accurately and swiftly onto the animal’s muzzle. Now it started struggling, but very soon it’s kicking and frightened giggling were stilled by the chloroform as well. Soon, the yearling hyena was lying in the second net next to its mother.
   If anything, it was even more difficult to tell the gender of yearling hyenas apart, but after giving the animal a once-over, Mr. Hayes tentatively decided that it was a male. They’d caught the two animals tonight that they’d wanted, and it was time to head back to camp with their captures.
   There was not much time to talk. They needed to get both hyenas back to camp and into a secure cage as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, Jimmy could feel how proud, how satisfied Hayes was of him every time he looked at the first mate’s figure.
   Each net was tied up, with one of the long poles inserted through it near the top. Then, Hayes and Moro holding the ends of one pole, they put it on their collective shoulders, lifting the adult female hyena off the red oat grass. Jimmy and Hilali took up the second, which supported the net with the yearling. “You did very well bwana Jimmy,” Hilali approvingly hissed. “I think you were very tough and very brave.”
 And looking at his mentor’s back, Jimmy almost felt like crying, for he knew that Mr. Hayes felt the exact same way too.
 In the African night, the nocturnal chorus fell silent once again as a lioness came to investigate what was left of the impala bait. Gliding up to it, she smelt the fresh acrid scent of her worst enemies, the hyenas. Her lips curled in a contemptuous snarl, and she scanned around with her tawny ears and sharp cat eyes. Even more disturbing, she could smell man-scent, sweat, metal, glass,-and a very bitter, sharp aroma, like nothing she’d ever come across before.
 Crouching instinctively and nervously snarling, the lioness carefully listened, ready to run or charge while focusing on every inch of her surroundings. As terribly unnerving as it was, the freshest man-scent seemed to be in a direction going away from her. That was reassuring, and there was no sound or smell of hyenas nearby either. So, ears cocked for unfamiliar sounds, she laid her golden form down by the worked over bait and peacefully finished it off.
   At the same time, Jimmy and Hilali were putting the yearling hyena in a steel cage with its still drugged mother. They were starting to twitch and flutter their eyelids though, so it wouldn’t be long before both animals unsteadily awoke, and were reunited.
 It had been a good evening all around for the Venture’s men and their native assistants. As they’d hoped for, the group of five men who’d left before Jimmy and Hayes had found that hulking male lion in their pit trap, and the quintet had easily lifted him out with ropes after drugging the majestic cat, putting him in the wheeled cage for transport back.
   Colin had found another puff adder and a gorgeous, almost fluorescent green mamba, as well as a nice Egyptian cobra, a delicious irony that the Captain was able to appreciate. “As long as I’m not trapped in another shed or my tent with it, I guess that snake is all right,” Englehorn wryly told the snake-catcher.
   Using an enormous metal box trap baited with a dead rooster that was half sunk in a nearby stream, some of the men had captured a twelve-foot Nile crocodile, which pummeled the sides of the thick wire with its bony head in anger and frustration.
   But as Jimmy left the newly caged animals and rejoined the rest of the men in camp, he was the man of the day, so to speak. Englehorn addressed him first. Feeling in high spirits after such a successful night, he’d decided to treat himself to one of his beloved cigars, talking to Jimmy between drags.
   “Ah, there’s our new hyena-catcher! How did the whole affair go Jimmy?” Englehorn asked, taking another drag on the cigar and puffing out smoke.
    “Didn’t Mr. Hayes tell you everything already Skipper Englehorn?” a surprised Jimmy said.
 “Only that you caught those two hyenas and subdued them yourself,” Englehorn answered. “Now I’d like to be the first to hear every detail of your conquest.”
    So Jimmy told him everything, about the waiting, how scared he’d been thinking about what would happen when a hyena was finally snared, how that big female had been the first to arrive and then the feeding frenzy, how she’d lunged at him when he’d gone to drug her, and by an amazing coincidence, how they’d captured that hyena’s own son shortly afterward.
   All the while, his skipper watched, intently looking at Jimmy with those sharp blue eyes. He reacted pretty much as Jimmy thought he would to the story of the capture, showing real concern as he heard about how the adult hyena had almost savaged his youngest crewmember, nodding in agreement when Jimmy told him about how ugly and frightening the hyenas were, and giving a look of something like understanding on hearing about Jimmy’s pity for the young hyena.
   When he finished recounting the capture’s events, he caught his breath and regarded his captain. Obviously, Englehorn was running the matter and his behavior during the time through his head again. Jimmy just hoped he’d get something positive from the man for all his pains. When Englehorn looked at Jimmy again, his reaction was positive, and yet utterly unexpected at the same time.
 The skipper showed his white teeth, and then laughed. And he laughed some more, deep, coughing, full-bodied laughs.
 Jimmy was totally taken aback. First of all, it was rare for Master Englehorn to express himself through real laughter at all, even when something was much too funny to ignore. But even more worrisome, what if Englehorn was laughing at him? Had he really been that much of a bumbler, ultimately looking totally silly as he’d gone about such a supposedly triumphant capture? That hyena had almost gutted him, damnit! How could one possibly be professional in a situation like that?
   But before he could become too crestfallen, Englehorn stopped, telling him “Well done Jimmy!! You faced a beast of prey for the first time and just came through with flying colors. I am extremely proud of you and pleased by your courage.”
   So that’s why you were laughing, Jimmy thought. Skipper is pleased with ME! And he automatically beamed from ear to ear, feeling full of pride in a capture so well done.
   Englehorn continued to praise him, still puffing on his cigar. “Truth be told, I was skeptical when Hayes told me that it was past time you caught your first meat-eater, and that a hyena would work very well for that purpose. I know how you feel about hyenas Jimmy, and I feel much the same way. Nasty chuckling demons,” he said contemptuously.
   “It was horrible when that hyena was attacking me Skipper,” Jimmy said in a quiet, haunted voice.
   “But you stood up to the brute and kept your head. That was very good, and I’d expect nothing less from one of my crewmen. You passed the test we gave you. An excellent job.”
   “You’re very welcome,” Jimmy shyly responded.
 Taking note of the other crewmen gathering around, Englehorn took a draw on his cigar again, then told Jimmy, “There’s no reason I should be the only one to hear your account though. I don’t doubt that the others would deeply enjoy hearing it, if that’s fine by you.”
 “It sure is Skipper,” Jimmy eagerly said, full of pride and excitement from his captain’s praises.
   “Yes, I’d love to hear about the exploits of our intrepid hyena-catcher,” an animated Colin said. “Besides, anything worth doing is worth doing twice-or at least reliving!”
   So, sitting down by the fire, bashfulness and great pride both competing in his breast, Jimmy told the gathered assembly all about his first carnivore capture. For the next few days afterwards, the Swahili men would joyously sing an impromptu song around camp about how the brave young bwana captured two fisi kail single-handedly, and Jimmy would be given a wooden staff by the chief of Moro and Hilali’s village to commemorate such a manly deed, which he reluctantly accepted and later kept in his cabin.
 But even that honor wouldn’t stay with the young man as deeply as something Mr. Hayes had told him as they talked before going to sleep.
   “Mr. Hayes,” Jimmy said, “I known everyone’s proud of me for catching those two hyenas, and I am too, now that it’s all over. But I was so terrified at the time, especially when I had to go out and face them to drug each one. I was shaking so hard, and frightened out of my mind. So I don’t know where people are getting off calling me brave for doing that.”
 “I know you were terrified Jimmy, and I don’t blame you at all,” was Hayes’ quiet answer. “It takes a lot to do something like that. But that’s exactly what they mean. Even though you’re scared stiff about something that you aim to do, you go and do it anyhow. That’s bravery. Continue to be that way Jimmy-but do not think it gives you license to go looking for trouble-and you’ll be just fine.”
 “Thanks Mr. Hayes,” Jimmy fondly said. “And you know that big hyena? I think I’ve found a good name for her.”
 “Don’t tell me you want to name such an uncouth beast like that Jimmy. And besides, you’ll just grow too attached, then if—“
 “I know Mr. Hayes, it sets me up for hurt. We’ve had this talk before, but I don’t mind. Anyway, I think that that this name fits that she-hyena perfectly.”
 “What are we supposed to call her then?”
 “Her cub I’ve named Silver Prince. But her name is Mrs. Stink.”
 “A very good choice,” Hayes said as he gave an approving series of nods.
Then they fell asleep.
Ten days later…
 The hyena’s cage, the first of four, gently came to rest on the Venture’s deck. Trotting over, Jimmy looked into the nervous brown eyes of Mrs. Stink. After she’d come to understand that these humans had taken away her freedom, but weren’t going to hurt her, she’d become surprisingly more sociable, never again behaving with the ferocity of that first night. Now meek and fairly biddable, she would respond well to show life, Jimmy thought.
   Looking at her hunched form, instead of revulsion he felt intense pride. He’d gone up against a savage, intimidating carnivore, and conquered her, making the beast into his trophy. But this one was alive, and the whole world could see her. Even if the people that came to gaze upon their hunched forms never knew exactly who caught the spotted hyena and her yearling, it didn’t change the fact that it was his accomplishment, his victory.
   But best off all, he’d proved himself to Mr. Hayes and Mr. Englehorn, showing them how high his abilities and nerves could take him. And there was no reward better than that. As she was carted off down to the cargo hold, Mrs. Stink gave an especially vigorous laugh. Jimmy responded with one of his own, not one of excitement or fear, but of the purest joy.