As A Humorist
Not long ago, about the time a party of Americans were setting out for
India to hunt the tiger, a young banker from New York came to
California to hunt what he rightly considered the nobler beast.
He chartered a small steamer in San Francisco Bay and taking with him
a party of friends, as well as a great-grandson of Daniel Boone, a
famous hunter, for a guide, he sailed up the coast to the redwood
wilderness of Humboldt. Here he camped on the bank of a small stream
in a madrona thicket and began to hunt for his bear. He found his
bear, an old female with young cubs. As Boone was naturally in advance
when the beast was suddenly stumbled upon, he had to do the fighting,
and this gave the banker from the States a chance to scramble up a
small madrona. Of course he dropped his gun. They always do drop
their guns, by some singularly sad combination of accidents, when they
start up a tree with two rows of big teeth in the rear, and it is
hardly fair to expect the young bear-hunter from New York to prove an
exception. Poor Boone was severely maltreated by the savage old mother
grizzly in defense of her young. There was a crashing of brush and a
crushing of bones, and then all was still.
Suddenly the bear seemed to remember that there was a second party who
had been in earnest search for a bear, and looking back down the trail
and up in the boughs of a small tree, she saw a pair of boots. She
left poor Boone senseless on the ground and went for those boots.
Coming forward, she reared up under the tree and began to claw for the
capitalist. He told me that she seemed to him, as she stood there, to
be about fifty feet high. Then she laid hold of the tree.
Fortunately this madrona tree is of a hard and unyielding nature, and
with all her strength she could neither break nor bend it. But she
kept thrusting up her long nose and longer claws, laying hold first of
his boots, which she pulled off, one after the other, with her teeth,
then with her claws she took hold of one garment and then another till
the man of money had hardly a shred, and his legs were streaming with
blood. Fearing that he should faint from loss of blood, he lashed
himself to the small trunk of the tree by his belt and then began to
scream with all his might for his friends.
When the bear became weary of clawing up at the dangling legs she went
back and began to turn poor Boone over to see if he showed any signs
of life. Then she came back and again clawed a while at the screaming
man up the madrona tree. It was great fun for the bear!
To cut a thrilling story short, the party in camp on the other side of
the creek finally came in hail, when the old bear gathered up her
babies and made safe exit up a gulch. Boone, now in Arizona, was so
badly crushed and bitten that his life was long despaired of, but he
finally got well. The bear, he informed me, showed no disposition to
eat him while turning him over and tapping him with her foot and
thrusting her nose into his bleeding face to see if he still breathed.
Story after story of this character could be told to prove that the
grizzly at home is not entirely brutal and savage; but rather a
good-natured lover of his family and fond of his sly joke.
Next: A Grizzly's Sly Little Joke
Previous: The Great Grizzly Bear