A Fat Little Editor And Three Little Browns

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

tumbling Sacramento River. Some of the old miners are down there

still--still working on the desolate old rocky bars with rockers. They

have been there, some of them, for more than thirty years. A few of

them have litt
e 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

hot, almost, to tell the truth. Even here under Mount Shasta, in her

sheets of eternal 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 California.

This is the great bear land. One of our party, a simple-hearted and

honest city editor, 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 baldheaded,

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 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 forward, 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 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 myself 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 numerous and large here. The wild-cat, too, is 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 dressing 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 reversed pine bark close by.

"Fall down," I cried, "fall flat down on your face."

It was a small she bear, and she was very 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 always 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 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 hungry 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 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

station 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 you?"