What is the summary of "The Princess and the Puma?"

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story is about Josefa O'Donnell, the daughter of a cattle baron named Ben O'Donnell and his wife, a Mexican woman. Josefa is an intrepid western woman who is a crack shot. Ripley Givens, a foreman on one of the ranches, wants to marry Josefa. One night, he sees her by a water-hole, and he also sees a crouching Mexican lion. He decides to be valiant and kill the lion for Josefa, but before he can reach his gun, the lion pounces on him. Instead of his rescuing Josefa, she rescues Ripley by shooting the lion with her silver-mounted .38.

Ripley, mortified that he has been rescued by Josefa rather than being a chivalrous knight-like figure, lies to Josefa and tells her that lion was really Bill, a pet at his camp. Josefa pretends to be very sad and apologetic about killing Ripley's pet, and the two hold hands as Ripley accompanies her on horseback back to her house. However, after Josefa arrives home and Ripley leaves, she tells her father that she killed the lion that had murdered a man. She knew the lion by the cut someone had taken out of his ear with a machete. It's clear that she knew all along that Ripley was lying about the lion being his pet and that she is not afraid or apologetic about anything. Rather than Ripley fooling her, she has fooled him. 

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this tale, there is a very wealthy rancher that owns a lot of different property.  He is referred to as "the king", and has one daughter, Josefa, or "the princess".  There is a ranch-hand, Ripley Givens, who decides one day to leave his post and ride the distance to go and propose to her.  He stops to make camp at night on the way, and while eating, he hears the cry of a puma.  Worried, he gets up and follows the noise.  He sees Josefa kneeling to get a drink at a stream, with a puma ready to pounce on her.  So, he gives a shout of warning and jumps in-between the puma and Josefa, with his gun drawn.  The puma lands on him; Josefa had shot him.  Givens is horribly embarrassed, and so to cover his humiliation he makes up a story about the puma having been his pet.  He calls the puma "Bill" and says that he had raised him from a pup and that everyone loved him.  Josefa apologizes and allows him to ride her home.  Once home, she tells her father that she has shot down the infamous "Mexican lion they call the ‘Gotch-eared Devil’... I knew him by the slice gone from his left ear."  So, she was not fooled by Givens' story at all.  It's a funny story, and I highly recommend reading it if you haven't already.