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come out uncommonly strong. I recollected a newspaper subscription 1 had delayed paying years and years ago, until both editor and newspaper were dead, and which now never could be paid to all eternity.
The bear was coming on.
I tried to remember what I had read about encounters with bears. I could n't recall an instance in which a man had run away from a bear in the woods and escaped, although I recalled plenty where the bear had run from the man and got off. I tried to think what is the best way to kill a bear with a gun, when you are not near enough to club him with the stock. My first thought was to fire at his head ; to plant the ball between his eyes; but this is a dangerous experiment. The bear's brain is very small; and unless you hit that, the bear does not mind a bullet in his head ; that is, not at the time. I remembered that the instant death of the bear would follow a bullet planted just back of his fore-leg, and sent into his heart. This spot is also difficult to reach, unless the bear stands off, side towards you, like a target. I finally determined to fire at him generally.
The bear was coming on.
The contest seemed to me very different from any. thing at Creedmoor. I had carefully read the reports of the shooting there ; but it was not easy to apply the experience I had thus acquired. I hesitated whether I had better fire lying on my stomach; or lying on my back, and resting the gun on my toes. But in neither position, I reflected, could I see the bear until he was upon me.
The range was too short; and the bear would n't wait for me to examine the thermometer, and note the direction of the wind. Trial of the Creedmoor method, therefore, had to be
abandoned ; and I bitterly regretted that I had not read more accounts of offhand shooting.
For the bear was coming on.
I tried to fix my last thoughts upon my family. As my family is small, this was not difficult. Dread of displeasing my wife, or hurting her feelings, was uppermost in my mind.
mind. What would be her anxiety as hour after hour passed on, and I did not return! What would the rest of the household think as the afternoon passed, and no blackberries came! What would be my wife's mortification when the news was brought that her husband had been eaten by a bear! I cannot imagine any thing more ignominious than to have a husband eaten by a bear. And this was not my only anxiety. The mind at such times is not under control. With the gravest fears the most whimsical ideas will occur. I looked beyond the mourning friends, and thought what kind of an epitaph they would be compelled to put upon the stone. Some thing like this:
HERE LIE THE REMAINS
EATEN BY A BEAR
Aug. 20, 1877.
It is a very unheroic and even disagreeable epitaph. That “eaten by a bear” is intolerable. It is grotesque. And then I thought what an inadequate language the English is for compact expression. It would not answer to put upon the stone simply “ eaten;" for that is indefinite, and requires explanation: it might mean eaten by a cannibal. This difficulty could not occur in the German, where essen signifies the act of
feeding by a man, and fressen by a beast. How simple the thing would be in German)
Aug. 20, 1877.
That explains itself. The well-born one was eaten by a beast, and presumably by a bear, - an animal that has a bad reputation since the days of Elisha.
The bear was coming on; he had, in fact, come on. I judged that he could see the whites of my eyes. All my subsequent reflections were confused. I raised the gun, covered the bear's breast with the sight, and let drive. Then I turned, and ran like a deer. I did not hear the bear pursuing. I looked back. The bear had stopped. He was lying down. I then remembered that the best thing to do after having fired your gun is to reload it. I slipped in a charge, keeping my eyes on the bear. He never stirred. I walked back suspiciously. There was a quiver in the hindlegs, but no other motion. Still he might be shamming: bears often sham. To make sure, I approached, and put a ball into his head. He did n't mind it now: he minded nothing. Death had come to him with a merciful suddenness. He was calm in death. In order that he might remain so, I blew his brains out, and then started for home. I had killed a bear!
Notwithstanding my excitement, I managed to saunter into the house with an unconcerned air. There was a chorus of voices:
“Where are your blackberries ?"
“Why were you gone so long?” “ Where's your pail?” “I left the pail. “ Left the pail! What for?” “A bear wanted it." “Oh, nonsense!” “Well, the last I saw of it, a bear had it." “Oh, come! You did n't really see a bear?" “ Yes, but I did really see a real bear.” 6 Did he run?” 6. Yes; he ran after me.” “I don't believe a word of it. What did you do?" “Oh! nothing particular-except kill the bear.”
Cries of " Gammon !" “ Don't believe it !" “ Where's the bear?"
“ If you want to see the bear, you must go up into the woods. I could n't bring him down alone.”
Having satisfied the household that something extraordinary bad occurred, and excited the 'posthumous fear of some of them for my own safety, I went down into the valley to get help. The great bear-hunter, who keeps one of the summer boarding-houses, received my story with a smile of incredulity; and the incredulity spread to the other inhabitants and to the boarders as soon as the story was known. However, as I insisted in all soberness, and offered to lead them to the bear, a party of forty or fifty people at last started off with me to bring the bear in. Nobody believed there was any bear in the case; but everybody who could get a gun carried one; and we went into the woods armed with guns, pistols, pitchforks, and sticks, against all contingencies or surprises, - a crowd made up mostly of scoffers and jeerers.
But when I led the way to the fatal spot, and
pointed out the bear, lying peacefully wrapped in his own skin, something like terror seized the boarders, and genuine excitement the natives. It was a nomistake bear, by Georgel and the hero of the fight well, I will not insist upon that. But what a procession that was, carrying the bear home! and what a congregation was speedily gathered in the valley to see the bear! Our best preacher up there never drew anything like it on Sunday.
And I must say that my particular friends, who were sportsmen, behaved very well, on the whole. They did n't deny that it was a bear, although they said it was small for a bear. Mr. Deane, who is equally good with a rifle and a rod, admitted that it was a very fair shot. He is probably the best salmonfisher in the United States, and he is an equally good hunter. I
I suppose there is no person in America who is more desirous to kill a moose than he. But he needlessly remarked, after he had examined the wound in the bear, that he had seen that kind of a shot made by a cow's horn.
This sort of talk affected me not. When I went to sleep that night, my last delicious thought was, “ I've killed a bear!”