The Baldwin Library
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TRUE BEAR STORIES.
BY JOAQUIN MILLER,
DR. DAVID STARR JORDAN,
President of Leland Stanford, Jr., University.
TOGETHER WITH A THRILLING ACCOUNT OF THE
CAPTURE OF THE CELEBRATED
CHICAGO AND NEW YORK:
RAND MCNALLY & COMPANY,
Copyright, g900, by Rand McNally & Co.,
Made in U.S.A. 5MI-26
MY DEAR LITTLE DAUGHTER,
FOR WHOSE PLEASURE AND INSTRUCTION I HAVE MANY TIMES
DUG UP THE MOST OF THESE STORIES FROM
OUT THE DAYS OF MY BOYHOOD.
My Bright Young Reader: I was once
exactly your own age. Like all boys, I was,
from the first, fond of bear stories, and
above all, I did not like stories that seemed
the least bit untrue. I always preferred a
natural and reasonable story and one that
would instruct as well as interest. This I
think best for us all, and I have acted on
this line in compiling these comparatively
few bear stories from a long life of action
in our mountains and up and down the
As a rule, the modern bear is not a
bloody, bad fellow, whatever he may have
been in Bible days. You read, almost any
circus season, about the killing of his keeper
by a lion, a tiger, a panther, or even the
dreary old elephant, but you never hear of
a tame bear's hurting anybody.
I suppose you have been told, and be-
lieve, that bears will eat boys, good or bad,
if they meet them in the woods. This is
not true. On the contrary, there are several
well-authenticated cases, in Germany most-
ly, where bears have taken lost children
under their protection, one boy having been
reared from the age of four to sixteen by
a she bear without ever seeing the face of
I have known several persons to be
maimed or killed in battles with bears, but
in every case it was not the bear that began
the fight, and in all my experience of about
half a century I never knew a bear to eat
human flesh, as does the tiger and like
Each branch of the bear family is repre-
sented here and each has its characteristics.
By noting these as you go along you may
learn something not set down in the school-
books. For the bear is a shy old hermit and
is rarely encountered in his wild state by
anyone save the hardy hunter, whose only
interest in the event is to secure the skin
Of course, now and then, a man of science
meets a bear in the woods, but the meeting
is of short duration. If the bear does not
leave, the man of books does, and so we
seldom get his photograph as he really ap-
pears in his wild state. The first and only
bear I ever saw that seemed to be sitting
for his photograph was the swamp, or
"sloth," bear-Ursus Labiatus-found in
the marshes at the mouth of the Mississippi
River. You will read of an encounter with
him further on.
I know very well that there exists a good
deal of bad feeling between boys and bears,
particularly on the part of boys. The trou-
ble began, I suppose, about the time when
that old she bear destroyed more than forty
boys at a single meeting, for poking fun
at a good old prophet. And we read that
David, when a boy, got very angry at a
she bear and slew her single-handed and
alone for interfering with his flock. So
you see the feud between the boy and bear
family is an old one indeed.
But I am bound to say that I have found
much that is pathetic, and something that is
almost half-human, in this poor, shaggy, shuf-
fling hermit. He doesn't want much, only
the wildest and most worthless parts of the
mountains or marshes, where, if you will
let him alone, he will let you alone, as a
rule. Sometimes, out here in California,
he loots a pig-pen, and now and then he gets
among the bees. Only last week, a little
black bear got his head fast in a bee-hive
that had been improvised from a nail-keg,
and the bee-farmer killed him with a pitch-
fork; but it is only when hungry and far
from home that he seriously molests us.
The bear is a wise beast. This is, per-
haps, because he never says anything. Next
to the giraffe, which you may know never
makes any noise or note whatever, notwith-
standing the wonderful length of his throat,
the bear is the most noiseless of beasts.
With his nose to the ground all the time,
standing up only now and then to pull a
wild plum or pick a bunch of grapes, or
knock a man down if he must, he seems to
me like some weary old traveler that has
missed the right road of life and doesn't
quite know what to do with himself. Ah!
if he would only lift up his nose and look
about over this beautiful world, as the In-
dians say the grizzly bear was permitted to
do before he disobeyed and got into trouble,
an account of which you will find further on,
why, the bear might be less a bear,
Stop here and reflect on how much there
is in keeping your face well lifted. The
pig with his snout to, the ground will be
forever a pig; the bear will be a bear to
the end of his race, because he will not hold
up his head in the world; but the horse-
look at the horse! However, our business is
with the bear now.
INTRODUCTORY NOTES, 7
I. A BEAR ON FIRE, 13
II. MUSIC-LOVING BEARS, .29
III. MY FIRST GRIZZLY, 36
IV. TWIN BABIES, 44
V. IN SWIMMING WITH A BEAR, 56
VI. A FAT LITTLE EDITOR AND THREE
LITTLE BROWNS, 68
VII. TREEING A BEAR, 76
VIII. BILL CROSS AND His PET BEAR, 86
IX. THE GREAT GRIZZLY BEAR, 96
X. As A HUMORIST, 106
XI. A GRIZZLY'S SLY LITTLE JOKE, 110
XII. THE GRIZZLY AS FREMONT FOUND
XIII. THE BEAR WITH SPECTACLES, 116
XIV. THE BEAR-SLAYER OF SAN DIEGO, 129
XV. ALASKAN AND POLAR BEAR, 146
XVI. MONNEHAN, THE GREAT BEAR-
HUNTER OF OREON, 156
XVII. THE BEAR "MONARCH"-HOW HE
WAS CAPTURED, 166
The bear is the most human of all the
beasts. He is not the most man-like in an-
atomy, nor the nearest in the line of evolu-
tion. The likeness is rather in his temper
and way of doing things and in the vicissi-
tudes of his life. He is a savage, of course,
but most men are that-wild members of a
wild fauna-and, like wild men, the bear
is a clumsy, good-natured blunderer, eating
with his fingers in default of a knife, and
preferring any day a mouthful of berries
to the excitement of a fight.
In this book Joaquin Miller has tried to
show us the bear as he is, not the traditional
bear of the story-books. In season and out
of season, the bear has been represented al-
ways the same bear, "as much alike as so
many English noblemen in evening dress,"
and always as a bloody bear.
Mr. Miller insists that there are bears
and bears, as unlike one another in nature
and action as so many horses, hogs or goats.
This much they have in common-bears are
8 INTRODUCTORY NOTES.
never cruel. They are generally full of
homely, careless kindness, and are very fond
of music as well as of honey, blackberries,
nuts, fish and other delicacies of the savage
The matter of season affects a bear's tem-
per and looks as the time of the day affects
those of a man.
He goes to. bed in the fall, when the fish
and berry season is over, fat and happy,
with no fight in him. He comes out in
spring, just as good-natured, if not so fat.
But the hot sun melts him down. His hun-
gry hunt for roots, bugs, ants and small
game makes him lean and cross. His claws
grow long, his hair is unkempt and he is
soon a shaggy ghost of himself, looking
"like a second-hand sofa with the stuffing
coming out," and in this out-at-elbows condi-
tion he loses his own self-respect.
Mr. Miller has strenuously insisted that
bears of the United States are of more than
one or two species. In this he has the un-
qualified support of the latest scientific in-
vestigations. Not long ago naturalists were
disposed to recognize but three kinds of bear
in North America. These are the polar
bear, the black bear, and the grizzly bear,
and even the grizzly was thought doubtful,
a slight variation of the bear of Europe.
But the careful study of bears' skulls has
changed all that, and our highest authority
on bears, Dr. C. Hart Merriam of the De-
partment of Agriculture, now recognizes
not less than ten species of bear in the limits
of the United States and Alaska.
In his latest paper (1896), a"Preliminary
Synopsis of the American Bears," Dr. Mer-
riam groups these animals as follows:
I. POLAR BEARS.
1. POLAR BEAR: Thalarctos maritimus
Linnaeus. Found on all Arctic shores.
II. BLACK BEARS.
2. COMMON BLACK BEAR (sometimes
brown or cinnamon) : Ursus americanus
Pallas. Found throughout the United
3. YELLOW BEAR (sometimes black or
brown): Ursus luteolus Griffith. Swamps
of Louisiana and Texas.
4. EVERGLADE BEAR: Ursus floridanus
Merriam. Everglades of Florida.
5. GLACIER BEAR: Ursus emmonsi Dall.
About Mount St. Elias.
10 INTRODUCTORY NOTES.
III. GRIZZLY BEARS.
6. THE GRIZZLY BEAR: Ursus horribilis
Ord. Found in the western parts of North
Under this species are four varieties: the
original horribilis, or Rocky Mountain griz-
zly, from Montana to the Great Basin of
Utah; the variety californicus Merriam,
the California grizzly, from the Sierra Ne-
vada; variety horriaeus Baird, the Sonora
grizzly, from Arizona and the South; and
variety alascensis Merriam, the Alaska
grizzly, from Alaska.
7. THE BARREN GROUND BEAR: Ursus
richardsoni Mayne Reid. A kind of grizzly
found about Hudson Bay.
IV. GREAT BROWN BEARS.
8. THE YAKUTAT BEAR: Ursus dalli
Merriam. From about Mount St. Elias.
9. THE SITKA BEAR: Ursus sitkeniis
Merriam. From about Sitka.
10. THE KADIAK BEAR: Ursus midden-
dorfi Merriam. From Kadiak and the Pen-
insula of Alaska.
These three bears are even larger than
the grizzly, and the Kadiak Bear is the larg-
est of all the land bears of the world. It
prowls about over the moss of the moun-
tains, feeding on berries and fish.
The sea-bear, Callorhinus ursinus, which
we call the fur seal, is also a cousin of the
bear, having much in common with its bear
ancestors of long ago, but neither that nor
its relations, the sea-lion and the walrus,
are exactly bears to-day.
Of all the real bears, Mr. Miller treats of
five in the pages of this little book. All the
straight "bear stories" relate to Ursus amer-
icanus, as most bear stories in our country
do. The grizzly stories treat of Ursus hor-
ribilis californicus. The lean bear of the
Louisiana swamps is Ursus luteolus, and
the Polar Bear is Thalarctos maritimus.
The author of the book has tried without
intrusion of technicalities to bring the
distinctive features of the different bears
before the reader and to instruct as well as
to interest children and children's parents
in the simple realities of bear life.
DAVID STARR JORDAN.
Leland Stanford, Jr., University.
TRUE BEAR STORIES.
A BEAR ON FIRE.
It is now more than a quarter of a cen-
tury since I saw the woods of Mount
Shasta in flames, and beasts of all sorts,
even serpents, crowded together; but I can
never forget, never!
It looked as if we would have a cloud-
burst that fearful morning. We three were
making our way by slow marches from
Soda Springs across the south base of
Mount Shasta to the Modoc lava beds-
two English artists and myself. We had
saddle horses, or, rather, two saddle horses
and a mule, for our own use. Six Indians,
with broad leather or elkskin straps across
their foreheads, had been chartered to
carry the kits and traps. They were men
14 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
of means and leisure, these artists, and
were making the trip for the fish, game,
scenery and excitement and everything, in
fact, that was in the adventure. I was
merely their hired guide.
This second morning out, the Indians-
poor slaves, perhaps, from the first, cer-
tainly not warriors with any spirit in them
-began to sulk. They had risen early and
kept hovering together and talking, or,
rather, making signs in the gloomiest sort
of fashion. We had hard work to get them
to do anything at all, and even after break-
fast was ready they packed up without
The air was ugly, for that region-hot,
heavy, and without light or life. It was
what in some parts of South America they
call "earthquake weather." Even the
horses sulked as we mounted; but the mule
shot ahead through the brush at oneq, and
this induced the ponies to follow.
The Englishmen thought the Indians
and horses were only tired from the day
A BEAR ON FIRE.
before, but we soon found the whole force
plowing ahead through the dense brush
and over fallen timber on a double quick.
Then we heard low, heavy thunder in the
heavens. Were they running away from a
thunder-storm? The English artists, who
had been doing India and had come to love
the indolent patience and obedience of the
black people, tried to call a halt. No use.
I shouted to the Indians in their own
tongue. "Tokau! Ki-sa! Kiu!" (Hasten!
Quick! Quick!) was all the answer I could
get from the red, hot face that was thrown
for a moment back over the load and
shoulder. So we shot forward. In fact,
the horses now refused all regard for the
bit, and made their own way through the
brush with wondrous skill and speed.
We were flying from fire, not flood! Piti-
ful what a few years of neglect will do
toward destroying a forest! When a lad
I had galloped my horse in security and
comfort all through this region. It was
like a park then. Now it was a dense
16 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
tangle of undergrowth and a, mass of fallen
timber. What a feast for flames! In one
of the very old books on America in the
British Museum-possibly the very oldest
on the subject-the author tells of the
park-like appearance of the American for-
ests. He tells his English friends back at
home that it is most comfortable to ride
to the hounds, "since the Indian squats
(squaws) do set fire to the brush and leaves
every spring," etc.
But the "squats" had long since disap-
peared from the forests of Mount Shasta.;
and here we were tumbling over and tear-
ing through ten years' or more of accumu-
lation of logs, brush, leaves, weeds and
grass that lay waiting for a sea of fire to
roll over all like a mass of lava.
And now the wind blew past and over
us. Bits of white ashes sifted down like
snow. Surely the sea of fire was coming,
coming right on after us! Still there was
no sign, save this little sift of ashes, no
sound; nothing at all except the trained
A BEAR ON FIRE.
sense of the Indians and the terror of the
"cattle" (this is what the Englishmen
called our horses) to give us warning.
In a short time we struck an arroyo, or
canyon, that was nearly free from brush
and led steeply down to the cool, deep
waters of the McCloud River. Here we
found the Indians had thrown their loads
and themselves on the ground.
They got up in sulky silence, and, strip-
ping our horses, turned them loose; and
then, taking our saddles, they led us
hastily up out of the narrow mouth of the
arroyo under a little steep stone bluff.
They did not say a word or make any
sign, and we were all too breathless and
bewildered to either question or protest.
The sky was black, and thunder made the
woods tremble. We were hardly done wip-
ing the blood and perspiration from our
torn hands and faces where we sat when
the mule jerked up his head, sniffed, snort-
ed and then plunged headlong into the
river and struck out for the deep forest
18 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
on the farther bank, followed by the
The mule is the most traduced of all ani-
mals. A single mule has more sense than
a whole stableful of horses. You can han-
dle a mule easily if the barn is burning; he
keeps his head; but a horse becomes in-
sane. He will rush right into the fire, if
allowed to, and you can only handle him,
and that with difficulty if he sniffs the fire,
by blindfolding him. Trust a mule in case
of peril or a panic long before a horse. The
brother of Solomon and willful son of David
surely had some of the great temple-build-
er's wisdom and discernment, for we read
that he rode a mule. True, he lost his head
and got hung up by the hair, but that is
nothing against the mule.
As we turned our eyes from seeing the
animals safely over, right there by us and
a little behind us, through the willows of
the canyon and over the edge of the water,
we saw peering and pointing toward the
A BEAR ON FIRE.
other side dozens of long black and brown
outreaching noses. Elk!
They had come noiselessly, they stood
motionless. They did not look back or
aside, only straight ahead. We could al-
most have touched the nearest one. They
were large and fat, almost as fat as cows;
certainly larger than the ordinary Jersey.
The peculiar thing about them was the
way, the level way, in which they held their
small, long heads-straight out; the huge
horns of the males lying far back on their
shoulders. And then for the first time I
could make out what these horns are for
-to part the brush with as. they lead
through the thicket, and thus save their
coarse coats of hair, which is very rotten,
and could be torn off in a little time if not
thus protected. They are never used to
fight with, never; the elk uses only his
feet. If on the defense, however, the male
elk will throw his nose close to the ground
and receive the enemy on his horns.
Suddenly and all together, and perhaps
20 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
they had only paused a second, they moved
on into the water, led by a bull with a
head of horns like a rocking-chair. And
his rocking-chair rocked his head under
water much of the time. The cold, swift
water soon broke the line, only the leader
making the bank directly before us, while
the others drifted far down and out of
Our artists, meantime, had dug up pencil
and pad and begun work. But an Indian
jerked the saddles, on which the English-
men sat, aside, and the work was stopped.
Everything was now packed up close under
the steep little ledge of rocks. An ava-
lanche of smaller wild animals, mostly
deer, was upon us. Many of these had their
tongues hanging from their half-opened
mouths. They did not attempt to drink, as
you would suppose, but slid into the water
silently almost as soon as they came.
Surely they must have seen us, but cer.
tainly they took no notice of us. And such
order! No crushing or crowding, as you
A BEAR ON FIRE.
see cattle in corrals, aye, as you see people
sometimes in the cars.
And now came a torrent of little creep-
ing things: rabbits, rats, squirrels! None
of these smaller creatures attempted to
cross, but crept along in the willows and
brush close to the water.
They loaded down the willows till they
bent into the water, and the terrified little
creatures floated away without the least
bit of noise or confusion. And still the
black skies were filled with the solemn
boom of thunder. In fact, we had not yet
heard any noise of any sort except thunder,
not even our own voices. There was some-
thing more eloquent in the air now, some-
thing more terrible than man or beast, and
all things were awed into. silence-a pro-
And all this time countless creatures,
little creatures and big, were crowding the
bank on our side or swimming across or
floating down, down, down the swift, wood-
hung waters. Suddenly the stolid leader
22 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
of the Indians threw his two naked arms in
the air and let them fall, limp and helpless
at his side; then he pointed out into the
stream, for there embers and living and
dead beasts began to drift and sweep down
the swift waters from above. The Indians
now gathered up the packs and saddles
and made a barricade above, for it was
clear that many a living thing would now
be borne down upon us.
The two Englishmen looked one another
in the face long and thoughtfully, pulling
their feet under them to keep from being
trodden on. Then, after another avalanche
of creatures of all sorts and sizes, a sort of
Noah's ark this time, one of them said to
"Beastly, you know!"
"Awful beastly, don't you know!"
As they were talking entirely to them-
selves and in their own language, I did
not trouble myself to call their attention
to an enormous yellow rattlesnake which
had suddenly and noiselessly slid down,
A BEAR ON FIRE.
over the steep little bluff of rocks behind
us, into our midst.
But now note this fact-every man
there, red or white, saw or felt that huge
and noiseless monster the very second she
slid among us. For as I looked, even as I
first looked, and then turned to see what
the others would say or do, they were all
looking at the glittering eyes set in that
The Indians did not move back or seem
nearly so much frightened as when they
saw the drift of embers and dead beasts in
the river before them; but the florid En-
glishmen turned white! They resolutely
arose, thrust their hands in their pockets
and stood leaning their backs hard against
the steep bluff. Then another snake, long,
black and beautiful, swept his supple neck
down between them and thrust his red
tongue forth-as if a bit of the flames had
already reached us.
Fortunately, this particular "wisest of
all the beasts of the field," was not dis-
24 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
posed to tarry. In another second he had
swung to the ground and was making a
thousand graceful curves in the swift
water for the further bank.
The world, even the world of books,
seems to know nothing at all about the
wonderful snakes that live in the woods.
The woods rattlesnake is as large as at
least twenty ordinary rattlesnakes; and
Indians say it is entirely harmless. The
enormous black snake, I know, is entirely
without venom. In all my life, spent most-
ly in the camp, I have seen only three of
those monstrous yellow woods rattle-
snakes; one in Indiana, one in Oregon and
the other on this occasion here on the
banks of the McCloud. Such bright eyes!
It was hard to stop looking at them.
Meantime a good many bears had come
and gone. The bear is a good swimmer,
and takes to the water without fear. He
is, in truth, quite a fisherman; so much of
a fisherman, in fact, that in salmon season
here his flesh is unfit for food. The pitiful
A BEAR ON FIRE.
part of it all was to see such little crea-
tures as could not swim clinging all up
and down and not daring to take to the
Unlike his domesticated brother, we saw
several wild-cats take to the water prompt-
ly. The wild-cat, you must know, has no
tail to speak of. But the panther and Cali-
fornian lion are well equipped in this re-
spect and abhor the water.
I constantly kept an eye over my shoul-
der at the ledge or little bluff of rocks, ex-
pecting to see a whole row of lions and
panthers sitting there, almost "cheek by
jowl" with my English friends, at any mo-
ment. But strangely enough, we saw
neither panther nor lion; nor did we see
a single grizzly among all the bears that
came that way.
We now noticed that one of the Indians
had become fascinated or charmed by look-
ing too intently at the enormous serpent in
our midst. The snake's huge, coffin-shaped
head, as big as your open palm, was slowly
26 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
swaying from side to side. The Indian's
head was doing the same, and their eyes
were drawing closer and closer together.
Whatever there may be in the Bible story
of Eve and the serpent, whether a figure
or a fact, who shall say?-but it is cer-
tainly, in some sense, true.
An Indian will not kill a rattlesnake.
But to break the charm, in this case, they
caught their companion by the shoulders
and forced him back flat on the ground.
And there he lay, crying like a child, the
first and only Indian I ever saw cry. And
then suddenly boom! boom! boom! as if
heaven burst. It began to rain in torrents.
And just then, as we began to breathe
freely and feel safe, there came a crash
and bump and bang above our heads, and
high over our heads from off the ledge be-
hind us! Over our heads like a rocket, in
an instant and clear into the water, leaped
a huge black bear, a ball of fire! his fat
sides in flame. He sank out of sight but
soon came up, spun around like a top, dived
.;r r ~l~gllSIRa~~
.n' C '
Into the water leaped a black bear.-Page 2i.
A BEAR ON FIRE.
again, then again spun around. But he
got across, I am glad to say. And this al-
ways pleases my little girl, Juanita. He
sat there on the bank looking back at us
quite a time. Finally he washed his face,
like a cat, then quietly went away. The
rattlesnake was the last to cross.
The beautiful yellow beast was not at
all disconcerted, but with the serenest dig-
nity lifted her yellow folds, coiled and un-
coiled slowly, curved high in the air,
arched her glittering neck of gold, widened
her body till broad as your two hands, and
so slid away over the water to the other
side through the wild white rain. The
cloudburst put out the fire instantly, show-
ing that, though animals have superhuman
foresight, they don't know everything be-
fore the time.
"Beastly! I didn't get a blasted sketch,
"Awful beastly! Neither did I, don't you
And that was all my English friends
28 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
said. The Indians made their moaning and
whimpering friend who had been overcome
by the snake pull himself together and
they swam across and gathered up the
Some men say a bear cannot leap; but I
say there are times when a bear can leap
like a tiger. This was one of the times.
No, don't despise the bear, either in his
life or his death. He is a kingly fellow,
every inch a king; a curious, monkish,
music-loving, roving Robin Hood of his
somber woods-a silent monk, who knows
a great deal more than he tells. And please
don't go to look at him and sit in judgment
on him behind the bars. Put yourself in
his place and see how much of manhood or
kinghood would be left in you with a muz-
zle on your mouth, and only enough liberty
left to push your nose between two rusty
bars and catch the peanut which the good
little boy has found to be a bad one and so
generously tosses it to the bear.
Of course, the little boy, remembering
the experience of about forty other little
boys in connection with the late bald-
headed Elijah, has a prejudice against the
30 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
bear family, but why the full-grown man
should so continually persist in caging this
shaggy-coated, dignified, kingly and an-
cient brother of his, I cannot see, unless it
is that he knows almost nothing at all of
his better nature, his shy, innocent love of
a joke, his partiality for music and his im-
perial disdain of death. And so, with a
desire that man may know a little more
about this storied and classic creature
which, with noiseless and stately tread, has
come down to us out of the past, and is as
quietly passing away from the face of the
earth, these fragmentary facts are set
down. But first as to his love of music. A
bear loves music better than he loves
honey, and that is saying that he loves
music better than he loves his life.
We were going to mill, father and I, and
Lyte Howard, in Oregon, about forty years
ago, with ox-teams, a dozen or two bags of
wheat, threshed with a flail and winnowed
with a wagon cover, and were camped for
the night by the Calipoola River; for it took
two days to reach the mill. Lyte got out
kis fiddle, keeping his gun, of course, close
at hand. Pretty soon the oxen came down,
came very close, so close that they almost
put their cold, moist noses against the
backs of our necks as we sat there on the
ox-yokes or reclined in our blankets,
around the crackling pine-log fire and lis-
tened to the wild, sweet strains that swept
up and down and up till the very tree tops
seemed to dance and quiver with delight.
Then suddenly father seemed to feel the
presence of something or somebody
strange, and I felt it, too. But the fiddler
felt, heard, saw nothing but the divine,
wild melody that made the very pine trees
dance and quiver to their tips. Oh, for the
pure, wild, sweet, plaintive music once
more! the music of "Money Musk," "Zip
Coon," "01' Dan Tucker" and all the other
dear old airs that once made a thousand
happy feet keep time on the puncheon
floors from Hudson's bank to the Oregon.
But they are no more, now. They have
32 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
passed away forever with the Indian, the
pioneer, and the music-loving bear. It is
strange how a man-I mean the natural
man-will feel a presence long before he
hears it or sees it. You can always feel the
approach of a-but I forget. You are of
another generation, a generation that only
reads, takes thought at second hand only,
if at all, and you would not understand;
so let us get forward and not waste time
in explaining the unexplainable to you.
Father got up, turned about, put me be-
hind him like, as an animal will its young,
and peered back and down through the
dense tangle of the deep river bank be-
tween two of the huge oxen which had
crossed the plains with us to the water's
edge; then he reached around and drew me
to him with his left hand, pointing between
the oxen sharp down the bank with his
A bear! two bears! and another coming;
one already more than half way across on
the great, mossy log that lay above the
deep, sweeping waters of the Calipoola;
and Lyte kept on, and the wild, sweet
music leaped up and swept through the de-
lighted and dancing boughs above. Then
father reached back to the fire and thrust
a long, burning bough deeper into the dy-
ing embers and the glittering sparks leaped
and laughed and danced and swept out and
up and up as if to companion with the
stars. Then Lyte knew. He did not hear,
he did not see, he only felt; but the fiddle
forsook his fingers and his chin in a second,
and his gun was to his face with the muzzle
thrust down between the oxen. And then
my father's gentle hand reached out, lay
on that long, black, Kentucky rifle barrel,
and it dropped down, slept once more at
the fiddler's side, and again the melodies;
and the very stars came down, believe me,
to listen, for they never seemed so big and
so close by before. The bears sat down on
their haunches at last, and one of them
kept opening his mouth and putting out his
red tongue, as if he really wanted to taste
34 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
the music. Every now and then one of
them would lift up a paw and gently tap
the ground, as if to keep time with the
music. And both my papa and Lyte said
next day that those bears really wanted to
And that is all there is to say about that,
except that my father was the gentlest gen-
tleman I ever knew and his influence must
have been boundless; for who ever before
heard of any hunter laying down his rifle
with a family of fat black bears holding
the little snow-white cross on their breasts
almost within reach of its muzzle?
The moon came up by and by, and the
chin of the weary fiddler sank lower and
lower, till all was still. The oxen lay down
and ruminated, with their noses nearly
against us. Then the coal-black bears
melted away before the milk-white moon,
and we slept there, with the sweet breath
of the cattle, like incense, upon us.
But how does a bear die? Ah, I had for-
gotten. I must tell you of death, then.
Well, we have different kinds of bears. I
know little of the Polar bear, and so say
nothing positively of him. I am told, how-
ever, that there is not, considering his size,
much snap or grit about him; but as for
the others, I am free to say that they live
and die like gentlemen.
I shall find time, as we go forward, to
set down many incidents out of my own
experience to prove that the bear is often
a humorist, and never by any means a bad
Judge Highton, odd as it may seem, has
left the San Francisco bar for the "bar" of
Mount Shasta every season for more than
a quarter of a century, and he probably
knows more about bears than any other
eminently learned man in the world, and
Henry Highton will tell you that the bear
is a good fellow at home, good all through,
a brave, modest, sober old monk.
A monkish Robin Hood
In his good green wood.
MY FIRST GRIZZLY.
One of Fremont's men, Mountain Jot
had taken a fancy to me down in Oregon,
and finally, to put three volumes in three
lines, I turned up as partner in his Soda
Springs ranch on the Sacramento, where
the famous Shasta-water is now bottled, I
believe. Then the Indians broke out,
burned us up and we followed and fought
them in Castle rocks, and I was shot down.
Then my father came on to watch by my
side, where I lay, under protection of
soldiers, at the mouth of Shot Creek can-
As the manzanita berries began to turn
the mountain sides red and the brown pine
quills to sift down their perfumed carpets
at our feet, I began to feel some strength
and wanted to fight, but I had had enough
of Indians. I wanted to fight grizzly bears
MY FIRST GRIZZLY.
this time. The fact is, they used to leave
tracks in the pack trail every night, and
right close about the camp, too, as big as
the head of a barrel.
Now father was well up in woodcraft, no
man better, but he never fired a gun. Never,
in his seventy years of life among savages,
did that gentle Quaker, school-master,
magistrate and Christian ever fire a gun.
But he always allowed me to have my own
way as a hunter, and now that I was get-
ting well of my wound he was so glad and
grateful that he willingly joined in with
the soldiers to help me kill one of these
huge bears that had made the big tracks.
Do you know why a beast, a bear of all
beasts, is so very much afraid of fire? Well,
in the first place, as said before, a bear is
a gentleman, in dress as well as address,
and so likes a decent coat. If a bear should
get his coat singed he would hide away
from sight of both man and beast for half
a year. But back of his pride is the fact
that a fat bear will burn like a candle;
38 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
the fire will not stop with the destruction
of his coat. And so, mean as it was, in the
olden days, when bears were as common
in California as cows are now, men used
to take advantage of this fear and kindle
pine-quill fires in and around his haunts
in the head of canyons to drive him out
and down and into ambush.
Read two or three chapters here between
the lines-lots of plans, preparations, dia-
grams. I was to hide near camp and wait
-to place the crescent of pine-quill fires
and all that. Then at twilight they all
went out and away on the mountain sides
around the head of the canyon, and I hid
behind a big rock near by the extinguished
camp-fire, with my old muzzle-loading Ken-
tucky rifle, lifting my eyes away up and
around to the head of the Manzanita can-
yon looking for the fires. A light! One,
two, three, ten! A sudden crescent of
forked flames, and all the fight and im-
petuosity of a boy of only a dozen years
was uppermost, and I wanted a bear!
MY FIRST GRIZZLY.
All alone I waited; got hot, cold, thirsty,
cross as a bear and so sick of sitting there
that I was about to go to my blankets, for
the flames had almost died out on the hills,
leaving only a circle of little dots and dying
embers, like a fading diadem on the mighty
lifted brow of the glorious Manzanita
mountain. And now the new moon came,
went softly and sweetly by, like a shy,
sweet maiden, hiding down, down out of
Crash! His head was thrown back, not
over his shoulder, as you may read but
never see, but down by his left foot, as he
looked around and back up the brown
mountain side. He had stumbled, or
rather, he had stepped on himself, for a
bear gets down hill sadly. If a bear ever
gets after you, you had better do down
hill and go down hill fast. It will make
him mad, but that is not your affair. I
never saw a bear go down hill in a good
humor. What nature meant by making a
bear so short in the arms I don't know.
40 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
Indians say he was first a man and walked
upright with a club on his shoulder, but
sinned and fell. As evidence of this, they
show that he can still stand up and fight
with his fists when hard pressed, but more
of this later on.
This huge brute before me looked almost
white in the tawny twilight as he stumbled
down through the steep tangle of cha-
parral into the opening on the stony bar
of the river.
He had evidently been terribly tangled
up and disgusted while in the bush and
jungle, and now, well out of it, with the
foamy, rumbling, roaring Sacramento
River only a few rods beyond him, into
which he could plunge with his glossy coat,
he seemed to want to turn about and shake
his huge fists at the crescent of fire in the
pine-quills that had driven him down the
mountain. He threw his enormous bulk
back on his haunches and rose up, and
rose up, and rose up! Oh, the majesty of
this king of our continent, as he seemed
MY FIRST GRIZZLY.
to still keep rising! Then he turned slowly
around on his great hinder feet to look
back; he pushed his nose away out, then
drew it back, twisted his short, thick neck,
like that of a beer-drinking German, and
then for a final observation he tiptoed up,
threw his high head still higher in the air
and wiggled it about and sniffed and
I shot at him from ambush, with his
back toward me, shot at his, back! For
shame! Henry Highton would not have
done that; nor, indeed, would I or any
other real sportsman do such a. thing now;
but I must plead the "Baby Act," and all
the facts, and also my sincere penitence,
The noble brute did not fall, but let him-
self down with dignity and came slowly
forward. Hugely, ponderously, solemnly,
he was coming. And right here, if I should
set down what I thought about-where
father was, the soldiers, anybody, every-
body else, whether I had best just fall on
42 TRUE BEAR STORES.
my face and "play possum" and put in a
little prayer or two on the side, like-well,
I was going on to say that if I should write
all that flashed and surged through my
mind in the next three seconds, you would
be very tired. I was certain I had not hit
the bear at all. As a rule, you can always
see the "fur fly," as hunters put it; only it
is not fur, but dust, that flies.
But this bear was very fat and hot, and
so there could have been no dust to fly.
After shuffling a few steps forward and
straight for the river, he suddenly surged
up again, looked all about, just as before,
then turned his face to the river and me,
the tallest bear that ever tiptoed up and up
and up in the Sierras. One, two, three
steps-on came the bear! and my gun
empty! Then he fell, all at once and all in
a heap. No noise, no moaning or groaning
at all, no clutching at the ground, as men
have seen Indians and even white men do;
as if they would hold the earth from pass-
ing away-nothing of that sort. He lay
MY FIRST GRIZZLY.
quite still, head down hill, on his left side,
gave just one short, quick breath, and then,
pulling up his great right paw, he pushed
his nose and eyes under it, as if to shut out
the light forever, or, maybe, to muffle up
his face as when "great Caesar fell."
And that was all. I had killed a grizzly
bear; nearly as big as the biggest ox.
These twin babies were black. They
were black as coal. Indeed, they were
blacker than coal, for they glistened in
their oily blackness. They were young baby
bears; and so exactly alike that no one
could, in any way, tell the one from the
other. And they were orphans. They
had been found at the foot of a small cedar
tree on the banks of the Sacramento River,
near the now famous Soda. Springs, found
by a tow-headed boy who was very fond
of bears and hunting.
But at the time the twin babies were
found Soda Springs was only a wild camp,
or way station, on the one and only trail
that wound through the woods and up and
down mountains for hundreds of miles,
connecting the gold fields of California
with the pastoral settlements away to the
He threw his enormous bulk back on his harnches, and rose up.-Page 40.
north in Oregon. But a railroad has now
taken the place of that tortuous old pack-
trail, and you can whisk through these wild
and woody mountains, and away on down
through Oregon and up through Washing-
ton, Montana, Dakota, Minnesota, Wiscon-
sin and on to Chicago without even once
getting out of your car, if you like. Yet
such a persistent ride is not probable, for
fish, pheasants, deer, elk, and bear still
abound here in their ancient haunts, and
the temptation to get out and fish or hunt
is too great to be resisted.
This place where the baby bears were
found was first owned by three men
or, rather, by two men and a boy. One
of the men was known as Mountain Joe.
He had once been a guide in the service of
General Fremont, but he was now a
drunken fellow and spent most of his time
at the trading post, twenty miles down the
river. He is now an old man, almost blind,
and lives in Oregon City, on a pension re-
ceived as a soldier of the Mexican war. The
46 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
other man's name was Sil Reese. He, also,
is living and famously rich-as rich as he
is stingy, and that is saying that he is very
The boy preferred the trees to the house,
partly because it was more pleasant and
partly because Sil Reese, who had a, large
nose and used it to talk with constantly,
kept grumbling because the boy, who had
been wounded in defending the ranch, was
not able to work-wash the dishes, make
fires and so on, and help in a general and
particular way about the so-called "Sodt
Spring Hotel." This Sil Reese was cer-
tainly a mean man, as has, perhaps, been
set down in this sketch before.
The baby bears were found asleep, and
alone. How they came to be there, and,
above all, how they came to be left long
enough alone by their mother for a feeble
boy to rush forward at sight of them, catch
them up in his arms and escape with them,
will always be a wonder. But this one
thing is certain, you had about as well
take up two rattlesnakes in your arms as
two baby bears, and hope to get off un-
harmed, if the mother of the young bears
is within a mile of you. This boy, however,
had not yet learned caution, and he prob-
ably was not born with much fear in his
make-up. And then he was so lonesome,
and this man Reese was so cruel and so
cross, with his big nose like a sounding
fog-horn, that the boy was glad to get even
a bear to love and play with.
They, so far from being frightened or
cross, began to root around under his arms
and against his breast, like little pigs, for
something to eat.. Possibly their mother
had been killed by hunters, for they were
nearly famished. When he got them home,
how they did eat! This also made Sil Reese
mad. For, although the boy, wounded as
he was, managed to shoot down a deer not
too far from the house almost every day,
and so kept the "hotel" in meat, still it
made Reese miserable and envious to see
48 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
the boy so happy with his sable and woolly
little friends. Reese was simply mean!
Before a month the little black boys be-
gan to walk erect, carry stick muskets,
wear paper caps, and march up and down
before the door of the big log "hotel" like
But the cutest trick they learned was
that of waiting on the table. With little
round caps and short white aprons, the
little black boys would stand behind the
long bench on which the guests sat at the
pine board table and pretend to take orders
with all the precision and solemnity of
Of course, it is to be confessed that they
often dropped things, especially if the least
bit hot; but remember we had only tin
plates and tin or iron dishes of all sorts,
so that little damage was done if a dish
did happen to fall and rattle down on the
Men came from far and near and often
lingered all day to see these cunning and
intelligent creatures perform.
About this time Mountain Joe fought a
duel with another mountaineer down at
the trading post, and this duel, a bloodless
and foolish affair, was all the talk. Why
not have the little black fellows fight a
duel also? They were surely civilized
enough to fight now!
And so, with a very few days' training,
they fought a duel exactly like the one in
which poor, drunken old Mountain Joe was
engaged; even to the detail of one of them
suddenly dropping his stick gun and run-
ning away and falling headlong in a pros-
When Joe came home and saw this duel
and saw what a fool he had made of him-
self, he at first was furiously angry. But
it made him sober, and he kept sober for
half a year. Meantime Reese was mad as
ever, more mad, in fact, than ever before.
For he could not endure to see the boy have
any friends of any kind. Above all, he did
50 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
not want Mountain Joe to stay at home
or keep sober. He wanted to handle all
the money and answer no questions. A
drunken man and a boy that he could bully
suited him best. Ah, but this man Reese
was a mean fellow, as has been said a time
or two before.
As winter came on the two blacks were
fat as pigs and fully half-grown. Their ap-
petites increased daily, and so did the
anger and envy of Mr. Sil Reese.
"They'll eat us out o' house and hum,"
said the big, towering nose one day, as the
snow began to descend and close up the
pack trails. And then the stingy man pro-
posed that the blacks should be made to
hibernate, as others of their kind. There
was a big, hollow log that had been sawed
off in joints to make bee gums; and the
stingy man insisted that they should be
put in there with a tight head, and a pack
of hay for a bed, and nailed up till spring
to save provisions.
Soon there was an Indian outbreak.
Some one from the ranch, or "hotel," must
go with the company of volunteers that
was forming down at the post for a winter
campaign. Of course Reese would not go.
He wanted Mountain Joe to go and get
killed. But Joe was sober now and he
wanted to stay and watch Reese.
And that is how it came about that the
two black babies were tumbled headlong
into a big, black bee gum, or short, hollow
log, on a heap of hay, and nailed up for
the winter. The boy had to go to the war.
It was late in the spring when the boy,
having neglected to get himself killed, to
the great disgust of Mr. Sil Reese, rode
down and went straight up to the big black
bee gum in the back yard. He put his ear
to a knothole. Not a sound. He tethered
his mule, came back and tried to shake the
short, hollow log. Not a sound or sign or
movement of any kind. Then he kicked the
big black gum with all his might. Nothing.
Rushing to the wood-pile, he caught up
an ax and in a moment had the whole end
52 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
of the big gum caved in, and, to his infinite
delight, out rolled the twins!
But they were merely the ghosts of them-
selves. They had been kept in a month
or more too long, and were now so weak
and so lean that they could hardly stand
on their feet.
"Kill 'em and put 'em out o' misery,"
said Reese, for run from him they really
could not, and he came forward and kicked
one of them flat down on its face as it was
trying hard to stand on its four feet.
The boy had grown some; besides, he
was just from the war and was now strong
and well. He rushed up in front of Reese,
and he must have looked unfriendly, for Sil
Reese tried to smile, and then at the same
time he turned hastily to go into the house.
And when he got fairly turned around,
the boy kicked him precisely where he had
kicked the bear. And he kicked him hard,
so hard that he pitched forward on his face
just as the bear had done. He got up
quickly, but he did not look back. He
seemed to have something to do in the
In a month the babies, big babies now,
were sleek and fat. It is amazing how these
creatures will eat after a short nap of a
few months, like that. And their cunning
tricks, now! And their kindness to their
master! Ah! their glossy black coats and
their brilliant black eyes!
And now three men came. Two of these
men were Italians from San Francisco.
The third man was also from that city,
but he had an amazing big nose and re-
fused to eat bear meat. He thought it was
They took tremendous interest in the big
black twins, and stayed all night and till
late next day, seeing them perform.
"Seventy-five dollars," said one big nose
to the other big nose, back in a corner
where they thought the boy did not hear.
"One hundred and fifty. You see, I'll
have to give my friends fifty each.. Yes,
it's true I've took care of 'em all winter,
54 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
but I ain't mean, and I'll only keep fifty
The boy, bursting with indignation, ran
to Mountain Joe with what he had heard.
But poor Joe had been sober for a long
time, and his eyes fairly danced in delight
at having $50 in his own hand and right
to spend it down at the post.
And so the two Italians muzzled the big,
pretty pets and led them kindly down the
trail toward the city, where they were to
perform in the streets, the man with the
big nose following after the twins on a big
And what became of the big black twin
babies? They are still performing, seem
content and happy, sometimes in a circus,
sometimes in a garden, sometimes in the
street. They are great favorites and have
never done harm to anyone.
And what became of Sil Reese? Well,
as said before, he still lives, is very rich
and very miserable. He met the boy-the
boy that was-on the street the other day
TWIN BABIES. 55
and wanted to talk of old times. He told
the boy he ought to write something about
the old times and put him, Sil Reese, in it.
He said, with that same old sounding nose
and sickening smile, that he wanted the
boy to be sure and put his, Sil Reese's
name, in it so that he could show it to his
friends. And the boy has done so.
The boy? You want to know what the
boy is doing? Well, in about a second he
will be signing his autograph to the bot-
tom of this story about his twin babies.
IN SWIMMING WITH A BEAR.
What made these ugly rows of scars on
my left hand?
Well, it might have been buckshot; only
it wasn't. Besides, buckshot would be scat-
tered about, "sort of promiscuous like," as
backwoodsmen say. But these ugly little
holes are all in a row, or rather in two
rows. Now a wolf might have made these
holes with his fine white teeth, or a bear
might have done it with his dingy and
ugly teeth, long ago. I must here tell you
that the teeth of a bear are not nearly so
fine as the teeth of a wolf. And the teeth
of a lion are the ugliest of them all. They
are often broken and bent; and they are
always of a dim yellow color. It is from
this yellow hue of the lion's teeth that we
have the name of one of the most famous
early flowers of May: dent de lion, tooth
SWIMMING WITH A BEAR. 57
of the lion; dandelion. Get down your
botany, now, find the Anglo-Asian name of
the flower, and fix this fact on your mind
before you read further.
I know of three men, all old men now,
who have their left hands all covered with
scars. One is due to the wolf; the others
owe their scars to the red mouths of black
You see, in the old days, out here in Cal-
ifornia, when the Sierras were full of bold
young fellows hunting for gold, quite a
number of them had hand-to-hand battles
with bears. For when we came out here
"the woods were full of 'em."
Of course, the first thing a man does
when he finds himself face to face with a
bear that won't run and he has no gun-
and that is always the time when he finds
a bear-why, he runs, himself; that is, if
the bear will let him.
But it is generally a good deal like the
old Crusader who "caught a Tartar" long
58 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
ago, when on his way to capture Jerusa-
lem, with Peter the Hermit.
"Come on!" cried Peter to the helmeted
and knightly old Crusader, who sat his
horse with lance in rest on a hill a little in
the rear. "Come on!"
"I can't! I've caught a Tartar."
"Well, bring him along."
"He won't come."
"Well, then, come without him."
"He won't let me."
And so it often happened in the old days
out here. When a man "caught" his bear
and didn't have his gun he had to fight
it out hand-to-hand. But fortunately, every
man at all times had a knife in his belt.
A knife never gets out of order, never
"snaps," and a man in those days always
had to have it with him to cut his food,
cut brush, "crevice" for gold, and so on.
Oh! it is a grim picture to see a young
fellow in his red shirt wheel about, when
he can't run, thrust out his left hand, draw
his knife with his right, and so, breast to
SWIMMING WITH A BEAR. 59
breast, with the bear erect, strike and
strike and strike to try to reach his heart
before his left hand is eaten off to the el-
We have five kinds of bears in the Sier-
ras. The "boxer," the "biter," the "hug-
ger," are the most conspicuous. The other
two are a sort of "all round" rough and
tumble style of fighters.
The grizzly is the boxer. A game old
beast he is, too, and would knock down all
the John L. Sullivans you could put in the
Sierras faster than you could set them up.
He is a kingly old fellow and disdains fa-
miliarity. Whatever may be said to the
contrary, he never "hugs" if he has room
to box. In some desperate cases he has
been known to bite, but ordinarily he obeys
"the rules of the ring."
The cinnamon bear is a lazy brown
brute, about one-half the size of the grizzly.
He always insists on being very familiar,
if not affectionate. This is the huggerr."
Next in order comes the big, sleek, black
60 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
bear; easily tamed, too lazy to fight, unless
forced to it. But when "cornered" he fights
well, and, like a lion, bites to the bone.
After this comes the small and quarrel-
some black bear with big ears, and a white
spot on his breast. I have heard hunters
say, but I don't quite believe it, that he
sometimes points to this white spot on his
breast as a sort of Free Mason's sign, as if
to say, "Don't shoot." Next in order comes
the smaller black bear with small ears. He
is ubiquitous, as well as omniverous;
gets into pig-pens, knocks over your bee-
hives, breaks open your milk-house, eats
more than two good-sized hogs ought to
eat, and is off for the mountain top before
you dream he is about. The first thing you
see in the morning, however, will be some
muddy tracks on the door steps. For he
always comes and snuffles and shuffles and
smells about the door in a good-natured
sort of way, and leaves his card. The fifth
member of the great bear family is not
SWIMMING WITH A BEAR. 61
much bigger than an ordinary dog; but he
is numerous, and he, too, is a nuisance.
Dog? Why not set the dog on him? Let
me tell you. The California dog is a lazy,
degenerate cur. He ought to be put with
the extinct animals. He devotes his time
and his talent to the flea. Not six months
ago I saw a coon, on his way to my fish-pond
in the pleasant moonlight, walk within
two feet of my dog's nose and not disturb
We hope that it is impossible ever to
have such a thing as hydrophobia in Cali-
fornia. But as our dogs. are too lazy to
bite anything, we have thus far been un-
able to find out exactly as to that.
This last-named bear has a big head and
small body; has a long, sharp nose and
longer and sharper teeth than any of the
others; he is a natural thief, has low in-
stincts, carries his nose close to the ground,
and, wherever possible, makes his road
along on the mossy surface of fallen trees
in humid forests. He eats fish-dead and
62 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
decaying salmon-in such abundance that
his flesh is not good in the salmon season.
It was with this last described specimen
of the bear family that a precocious old
boy who had hired out to some horse drov-
ers, went in swimming years and years
ago. The two drovers had camped to re-
cruit and feed their horses on the wild
grass and clover that grew at the headwa-
ters of the Sacramento River, close up un-
der the foot of Mount Shasta. A pleasant
spot it was, in the pleasant summer
This warm afternoon the two men saun-
tered leisurely away up Soda Creek to
where their horses were grazing belly deep
in grass and clover. They were slow to
return, and the boy, as all boys will, began
to grow restless. He had fished, he had
hunted, had diverted himself in a dozen
ways, but now he wanted something new.
He got it.
A little distance below camp could be
seen, through the thick foliage that hung
SWIMMING WITH A BEAR. 63
and swung and bobbed above the swift
waters, a long, mossy log that lay far out
and far above the cool, swift river.
Why not go down through the trees and
go out on that log, take off his clothes,
dangle his feet, dance on the moss, do any-
thing, everything that a boy wants to do?
In two minutes the boy was out on the
big, long, mossy log, kicking his boots off,
and in two minutes more he was dancing
up and down on the humid, cool moss, and
as naked as the first man, when he was
And it was very pleasant. The great,
strong river splashed and dashed and
boomed below; above him the long green
branches hung dense and luxuriant and
almost within reach. Far off and away
through their shifting shingle he caught
glimpses of the bluest of all blue skies.
And a little to the left he saw gleaming
in the sun and almost overhead the ever-
lasting snows of Mount Shasta.
Putting his boots and his clothes all
64 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
carefully in a heap, that nothing might roll
off into the water, he walked, or rather
danced on out to where the further end
of the great fallen tree lay lodged on a
huge boulder in the middle of the swift
and surging river. His legs dangled down
and he patted his plump thighs with great
satisfaction. Then he leaned over and saw
some gold and silver trout, then he flopped
over and lay down on his breast to get a
better look at them. Then he thought he
heard something behind him on the other
end of the log! He pulled himself together
quickly and stood erect, face about. There
was a bear! It was one of those mean,
sneaking, long-nosed, ant-eating little fel-
lows, it is true, but it was a bear! And a
bear is a bear to a boy, no matter about
his size, age or character. The boy stood
high up. The boy's bear stood up. And
the boy's hair stood up!
The bear had evidently not seen the boy
yet. But it had smelled his boots and
clothes, and had got upon his dignity. But
SWIMMING WITH A BEAR. 65
now, dropping down on all fours, with nose
close to the mossy butt of the log, it slowly
That boy was the stillest boy, all this
time, that has ever been. Pretty soon the
bear reached the clothes. He stopped, sat
down, nosed them about as a hog might,
and then slowly and lazily got up; but with
a singular sort of economy of old clothes,
for a bear, he did not push anything off
into the river.
What next? Would he come any farther?
Would he? Could he? Will he? The long,
sharp little nose was once more to the moss
and sliding slowly and surely toward the
poor boy's naked shins. Then the boy shiv-
ered and settled down, down, down on his
haunches, with his little hands clasped till
he was all of a heap.
He tried to pray, but somehow or an-
other, all he could think of as he sat there
crouched down with all his clothes off was:
"Now I lay me down to sleep."
66 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
But all this could not last. The bear
was almost on him in half a minute, al-
though he did not lift his nose six inches
till almost within reach of the boy's toes.
Then the surprised bear suddenly stood up
and began to look the boy in the face. As
the terrified youth sprang up, he thrust out
his left hand as a guard and struck the
brute with all his might between the eyes
with the other. But the left hand lodged
in the two rows of sharp teeth and the boy
and bear rolled into the river together.
But they were together only an instant.
The bear, of course, could not breathe with
his mouth open in the water, and so had to
let go. Instinctively, or perhaps because
his course lay in that direction, the bear
struck out, swimming "dog fashion," for
the farther shore. And as the boy certainly
had no urgent business on that side of the
river he did not follow, but kept very still,
clinging to the moss on the big boulder
till the bear had shaken the water from his
coat and disappeared in the thicket.
SWIMMING WITH A BEAR. 67
Then the boy, pale and trembling from
fright and the loss of blood, climbed up
the broken end of the log, got his clothes,
struggled into them as he ran, and so
And he had not yelled! He tied up his
hand in a piece of old flour sack, all by him-
self, for the men had not yet got back;
and he didn't whimper! And what became
of the boy? you ask.
The boy grew up as all energetic boys
do; for there seems to be a sort of special
providence for such boys
And where is he now?
Out in California, trapping bear in the
winter and planting olive trees in their sea-
And do I know him?
Yes, pretty well, almost as well as any
old fellow can know himself.
A FAT LITTLE EDITOR AND THREE
Mount Sinai, Heart of the Sierras-this
place is one mile east and a little less than
one mile perpendicular from the hot, dusty
and dismal little railroad town down on
the rocky banks of the foaming and tum-
bling Sacramento River. Some of the old
miners are down there still-still working
on the desolate old rocky bars with rock-
ers. They have been there, some of them,
for more than thirty years. A few of them
have little orchards, or vineyards, on the
steep, overhanging hills, but there is no
home life, no white women to speak of, as
yet. The battered and gray old miners are
poor, lonely and discouraged, but they are
honest, stout-hearted still, and of a much
higher type than those that hang about the
towns. It is hot down on the river-too
A FAT LITTLE EDITOR.
hot, almost, to tell the truth. Even here
under Mount Shasta, in her sheets of eter-
nal snow, the mercury is at par.
This Mount Sinai is not a town; it is a
great spring of cold water that leaps from
the high, rocky front of a mountain which
we have located as a summer home in the
Sierras-myself and a few other scribes of
This is the great bear land. One of our
party, a simple-hearted and honest city ed-
itor, who was admitted into our little
mountain colony because of his boundless
good nature and native goodness, had
never seen a bear before he came here. City
editors do not, as a rule, ever know much
about bears. This little city editor is bald-
headed, bow-legged, plain to a degree. And
maybe that is why he is so good. "Give
me fat men," said Caesar.
But give me plain men for good men, any
time. Pretty women are to be preferred;
but pretty men? Bah! I must get on with
the bear, however, and make a long story
70 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
a short story. We found our fat, bent-
legged editor from the city fairly broiling
in the little railroad town, away down at
the bottom of the hill in the yellow golden
fields of the Sacramento; and he was so
limp and so lazy that we had to lay hold
of him and get him out of the heat and up
into the heart of the Sierras by main force.
Only one hour of climbing and we got
up to where the little mountain streams
come tumbling out of snow-banks on every
side. The Sacramento, away down below
and almost under us, from here looks
dwindled to a brawling brook; a foamy
white thread twisting about the boulders
as big as meeting houses, plunging for-
ward, white with fear, as if glad to get
away-as if there was a bear back there
where it came from. We did not register.
No, indeed. This place here on Square
Creek, among the clouds, where the water
bursts in a torrent from the living rock,
we have named Mount Sinai. We own the
whole place for one mile square-the tall
A FAT LITTLE EDITOR.
pine trees, the lovely pine-wood houses;
all, all. We proposed to hunt and fish,
for food. But we had some bread, some
bacon, lots of coffee and sugar. And so,
whipping out our hooks and lines, we set
off with the editor up a little mountain
brook, and in less than an hour were far
up among the fields of eternal snow, and
finely loaded with trout.
What a bed of pine quills! What long
and delicious cones for a camp fire! Some
of those sugar-pine cones are as long as
your arm. One of them alone will make a
lofty pyramid of flame and illuminate the
scene for half a mile about. I threw my-
self on my back and kicked up my heels.
I kicked care square in the face. Oh, what
freedom! How we would rest after dinner
here! Of course we could not all rest or
sleep at the same time. One of us would
have to keep a pine cone burning all the
time. Bears are not very numerous out
here; but the California lion is both numer-
ous and large here. The wild-cat, too, is
72 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
no friend to the tourist. But we were not
tourists. The land was and is ours. We
would and all could defend our own.
The sun was going down. Glorious! The
shades of night were coming up out of the
gorges below and audaciously pursuing
the dying sun. Not a sound. Not a sign
of man or of beast. We were scattered all
up and down the hill.
Crash! Something came tearing down
the creek through the brush! The fat and
simple-hearted editor, who had been dress-
ing the homeopathic dose of trout, which
inexperience had marked as his own,
sprang up from the bank of the tumbling
little stream above us and stood at his full
height. His stout little knees for the first
time smote together. I was a good way
below him on the steep hillside. A brother
editor was slicing bacon on a piece of re-
versed pine bark close by
"Fall down," I cried, "fall flat down on
It was a small she bear, and she was very
A FAT LITTLE EDITOR.
thin and very hungry, with cubs at her
heels, and she wanted that fat little city
editor's fish. I know it would take
volumes to convince you that I really
meant for the bear to pass by him and
come after me and my friend with both
fish and bacon, and so, with half a line, I
assert this truth and pass on. Nor was I
in any peril in appropriating the little
brown bear to myself. Any man who
knows what he is about is as safe with a
bear on a steep hillside as is the best bull-
fighter in any arena. No bear can keep his
footing on a steep hillside, much less fight.
And whenever an Indian is in peril he al-
ways takes down hill till he comes to a
steep plane, and then lets the bear almost
overtake him, when he suddenly steps aside
and either knifes the bear to the heart or
lets the open-mouthed beast go on down
the hill, heels over head.
The fat editor turned his face toward
me, and it was pale. "What! Lie down
and be eaten up while you lie there and
74 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
kick up your heels and enjoy yourself?
Never. We will die together!" he shouted.
He started for me as fast as his short
legs would allow. The bear struck at him
with her long, rattling claws. He landed
far below me, and when he got up he
hardly knew where he was or what he was.
His clothes were in shreds, the back and
bottom parts of them. The bear caught at
his trout and was gone in an instant back
with her two little cubs, and a moment
later the little family had dined and was
away, over the hill. She was a cinnamon
bear, not much bigger than a big, yellow
dog, and almost as lean and mean and hun-
gry as any wolf could possibly be. We
helped our inexperienced little friend
slowly down to camp, forgetting all about
the bacon and the fish till we came to the
little board house, where we had coffee.
Of course the editor could not go to the
table now. He leaned, or rather sat, against
a pine, drank copious cups of coffee and
watched the stars, while I heaped up great
A FAT LITTLE EDITOR.
piles of leaves and built a big fire, and so
night rolled by in all her starry splendor
as the men slept soundly all about beneath
the lordly pines. But alas for the fat little
editor; he did not like the scenery, and he
would not stay. We saw him to the sta-
tion on his way back to his little sanctum.
He said he was satisfied. He had seen the
"bar." His last words were, as he pulled
himself close together in a modest corner
in the car and smiled feebly: "Say, boys,
you won't let it get in the papers, will
TREEING A BEAR.
Away back in the "fifties" bears were as
numerous on the banks of the Willamette
River, in Oregon, as are hogs in the hick-
ory woods of Kentucky in nut time, and
that is saying that bears were mighty
plenty in Oregon about forty years ago.
'You see, after the missionaries estab-
lished their great cattle ranches in Oregon
and gathered the Indians from the wilder-
ness and set them to work and fed them
on beef and bread, the bears had it all
their own way, till they literally overran
the land. And this gave a great chance for
sport to the sons of missionaries and the
sons of new settlers "where rolls the Ore-
And it was not perilous sport, either,
for the grizzly was rarely encountered
TREEING A BEAR.
here. His home was further to the south.
Neither was the large and clumsy cinna-
mon bear abundant on the banks of the
beautiful Willamette in those dear old
days, when you might ride from sun
to sun, belly deep in wild flowers, and
never see a house. But the small black
bear, as indicated before, was on deck in
great force, at all times and in nearly all
It was the custom in those days for boys
to take this bear with the lasso, usually on
We would ride along close to the dense
woods that grew by the river bank, and,
getting between him and his base of re-
treat, would, as soon as we sighted a bear
feeding out in the open plain, swing ouz
lassos and charge him with whoop and
yell. His habit of rearing up and stand-
ing erect and looking about to see what
was the matter made him an easy prey to
the lasso. And then the fun of taking him
home through the long, strong grass!
78 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
As a rule, he did not show fight when
once in the toils of the lasso; but in a few
hours, making the best of the situation like
a little philosopher, he would lead along
like a dog.
There were, of course, exceptions to this
On one occasion particularly, Ed Parish,
the son of a celebrated missionary, came
near losing his life by counting too con-
fidently on the docility of a bear which he
had taken with a lasso and was leading
His bear suddenly stopped, stood up
and began to haul in the rope, hand over
hand, just like a sailor. And as the other
end of the rope was fastened tightly to the
big Spanish pommel of the saddle, why
of course the distance between the bear
and the horse soon grew perilously
short, and Ed Parish slid from his horse's
back and took to the brush, leaving horse
and bear to fight it out as best they could.
When he came back, with some boys to
TREEING A BEAR.
help him, the horse was dead and the bear
was gone, having cut the rope with his
After having lost his horse in this way,
poor little Ed Parish had to do his hunting
on foot, and, as my people were immigrants
and very poor, why we, that is my brother
and I, were on foot also. This kept us three
boys together a great deal, and many a pe-
culiar adventure we had in those dear days
"when all the world was young."
Ed Parish was nearly always the hero
of our achievements, for he was a bold,
enterprising fellow, who feared nothing at
all. In fact, he finally lost his life from
his very great love of adventure. But this
is too sad to tell now, and we must be con-
tent with the story about how he treed a
bear for the present.
We three boys had gone bear hunting
up a wooded canyon near his father's ranch
late one warm summer afternoon. Ed had
a gun, but, as I said before, my people were
very poor, so neither brother nor I as yet
80 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
had any other arms or implements than the
Ed, who was always the captain in such
cases, chose the center of the dense, deep
canyon for himself, and, putting my
brother on the hillside to his right and my-
self on the hillside to his left, ordered a
simultaneous "Forward march."
After a time we heard him shoot. Then
we heard him shout. Then there was a
Then suddenly, high and wild, his voice
rang out through the tree tops down in
the deep canyon.
"Come down! Come quick! I've treed
a bear! Come and help me catch him;
come quick! Oh, Moses! come quick, and
-and-and catch him!"
My brother came tearing down the
steep hill on his side of the canyon as I de-
scended from my side. We got down about
the same time, but the trees in their dense
foliage, together with the compact under-
TREEING A BEAR.
brush, concealed everything. We could see
neither bear nor boy.
This Oregon is a damp country, warm
and wet; nearly always moist and humid,
and so the trees are covered with moss.
Long, gray, sweeping moss swings from the
broad, drooping boughs of fir and pine and
cedar and nearly every bit of sunlight is
shut out in these canyons from one year's
end to the other. And it rains here nearly
half of the year; and then these densely
wooded canyons are as dark as caverns. I
know of nothing so grandly gloomy as
these dense Oregon woods in this long
I laid my ear to the ground after I got
a glimpse of my brother on the other side
of the canyon, but could hear nothing at all
but the beating of my heart.
Suddenly there was a wild yell away up
in the dense boughs of a big mossy maple
tree that leaned over toward my side of
the canyon. I looked and looked with
eagerness, but could see nothing whatever.
82 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
Then again came the yell from the top
of the big leaning maple. Then there was
a moment of silence, and then the cry: "Oh,
Moses! Why don't you come, I say, and
help me catch him?" By this time I could
see the leaves rustling. And I could see
the boy rustling, too.
And just behind him was a bear. He
had treed the bear, sure enough!
My eyes gradually grew accustomed to
the gloom and density, and I now saw the
red mouth of the bear amid the green foli-
age high overhead. The bear had already
pulled off one of Ed's boots and was about
making a bootjack of his big red mouth
for the other.
"Why don't you come on, I say, and help
me catch him?"
He kicked at the bear, and at the same
time hitched himself a little further along
up the leaning trunk, and in doing so
kicked his remaining boot into the bear's
TREEING A BEAR.
"Oh, Moses, Moses! Why don't you
come? I've got a bear, I tell you."
"Where is it, Ed?" shouted my brother
on the other side.
But Ed did not tell him, for he had not
yet got his foot from the bear's mouth,
and was now too busy to do anything else
but yell and cry "Oh, Moses!"
Then my brother and I shouted out to
Ed at the same time. This gave him great
courage. He said something like "Con-
found you!" to the bear, and getting his
foot loose without losing the boot he kicked
the bear right on the nose. This brought
things to a standstill. Ed hitched along
a little higher up, and as the leaning trunk
of the tree was already bending under his
own and the bear's weight, the infuriated
brute did not seem disposed to go further.
Besides, as he had been mortally wounded,
he was probably growing too weak to do
My brother got to the bottom of the
canyon and brought Ed's gun to where I
84 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
stood. But, as. we had no powder or bul-
lets, and as Ed could not get them to us,
even if he would have been willing to risk
our shooting at the bear, it was hard to
decide what to do. It was already dusk
and we could not stay there all night.
"Boys," shouted Ed, at last, as he stead-
ied himself in the forks of a leaning and
overhanging bough, "I'm going to come
down on my laz rope. There, take that end
of it, tie your laz ropes to it and scramble
up the hill."
We obeyed him to the letter, and as we
did so, he fastened his lasso firmly to the
leaning bough and descended like a spider
to where we had stood a moment before.
We all scrambled up out of the canyon to-
gether and as quickly as possible.
When we went back next day to get our
ropes we found the bear dead near the root
of the old mossy maple. The skin was a
splendid one, and Ed insisted that my
brother and I should have it, and we gladly
TREEING A BEAR. 85
My brother, who was older and wiser
than I, said that he made us take the skin
so that we would not be disposed to tell
how he had "treed a bear." But I trust
not, for he was a very generous-hearted
fellow. Anyhow, we never told the story
while he lived.
BILL CROSS AND HIS PET BEAR.
When my father settled down at the foot
of the Oregon Sierras with his little family,
long, long years ago, it was about forty
miles from our place to the nearest civil-
People were very scarce in those days,
and bears, as said before, were very plenty.
We also had wolves, wild-cats, wild cattle,
wild hogs, and a good many long-tailed and
big-headed yellow Californian lions.
The wild cattle, brought there from
Spanish Mexico, next to the bear, were
most to be feared. They had long, sharp
horns and keen, sharp hoofs. Nature had
gradually helped them out in these weap-
ons of defense. They had grown to be slim
and trim in body, and were as supple and
swift as deer. They were the deadly ene-
BILL CROSS AND HIS BEAR. 87
mies of all wild beasts; because all wild
beasts devoured their young.
When fat and saucy, in warm summer
weather, these cattle would hover along
the foothills in bands, hiding in the hol-
lows, and would begin to bellow whenever
they saw a bear or a wolf, or even a man
or boy, if on foot, crossing the wide valley
of grass and blue camas blossoms. Then
there would be music! They would start
up, with heads and tails in the air, and,
broadening out, left and right, they would
draw a long bent line, completely shutting
off their victim from all approach to the
foothills. If the unfortunate victim were
a man or boy on foot, he generally made
escape up one of the small ash trees that
dotted the valley in groves here and there,
and the cattle would then soon give up the
chase. But if it were a wolf or any other
wild beast that could not get up a
tree, the case was different. Far away,
on the other side of the valley, where
dense woods lined the banks of the wind-
88 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
ing Willamette river, the wild, bellow-
ing herd would be answered. Out from'
the edge of the woods would stream,
right and left, two long, corresponding,
surging lines, bellowing and plunging for-
ward now and then, their heads to the
ground, their tails always in the air and
their eyes aflame, as if they would set fire
to the long gray grass. With the precision
and discipline of a well-ordered army, they
would close in upon the wild beast, too
terrified now to either fight or fly, and,
leaping upon him, one after another, with
their long, sharp hoofs, he would, in a little
time, be crushed into an unrecognizable
mass. Not a bone would be left unbroken.
It is a mistake to suppose that they ever
used their long, sharp horns in attack.
These were used only in defense, the same
as elk or deer, falling on the knees and re-
ceiving the enemy on their horns, much as
the Old Guard received the French in the
last terrible struggle at Waterloo.
Bill Cross was a "tender foot" at the time
BILL CROSS AND HIS BEAR. 89
of which I write, and a sailor, at that. Now,
the old pilgrims who had dared the plains
in those days of '49, when cowards did not
venture and the weak died on the way, had
not the greatest respect for the courage or
endurance of those who had reached Ore-
gon by ship. But here was this man, a
sailor by trade, settling down in the in-
terior of Oregon, and, strangely enough,
pretending to know more about everything
in general and bears in particular than
either my father or any of his boys!
He had taken up a piece of land down
in the pretty Camas Valley where the grass
grew long and strong and waved in the
wind, mobile and beautiful as the mobile
The good-natured and self-complacent
old sailor liked to watch the waving grass.
It reminded him of the sea, I reckon. He
would sometimes sit on our little porch as
the sun went down and tell us boys
strange, wild sea stories. He had traveled
far and seen much, as much as any man
90 TRUE BEAR STORIES.
can see on water, and maybe was not a
very big liar, for a sailor, after all. We
liked his tales. He would not work, and
so he paid his way with stories of the sea.
The only thing about him that we did not
like, outside of his chronic idleness, was
his exalted opinion of himself and his un-
concealed contempt for everybody's opin-
ion but his own.
"Bill," said my father one day, "those
black Spanish cattle will get after that red
sash and sailor jacket of yours some day
when you go down in the valley to your
claim, and they won't leave a grease spot.
Better go horseback, or at least take a gun,
when you go down next time."
"Pshaw! Squire. I wish I had as many
dollars as I ain't afeard of all the black
Spanish cattle in Oregon. Why, if they're
so blasted dangerous, how did your mis-
sionaries ever manage to drive them up
here from Mexico, anyhow?"
Still, for all that, the very next time that
he saw the old sailor setting out at his snail
BILL CROSS AND HIS BEAR. 91
pace for his ranch below, slow and indo-
lent as if on the deck of a ship, my father
insisted that he should go on horseback,
or at least take a gun.
"Pooh, pooh! I wouldn't be bothered
with a horse or a gun. Say, I'm goin' to
bring your boys a pet bear some day."
And so, cocking his little hat down over
his right eye and thrusting his big hands
into his deep pockets almost to the elbows,
he slowly and lazily whistled himself down
the gradual slope of the foothills, waist
deep in the waving grass and delicious wild
flowers, and soon was lost to sight in the
great waving sea.
Two things may be here written down.
He wouldn't ride a horse because he
couldn't, and for the same reason he
wouldn't use a gun. Again let it be writ-
ten down, also, that the reason he was
going away that warm autumn afternoon
was that there was some work to do. These
facts were clear to my kind and indulgent
father; but of course we boys never thought