Battle of the Monkey & the Crab

Wednesday, April 9, 2008



Griffith, Farran & Co.,

All Rights Reserved.


A monkey and a crab once met when going round a mountain.

The monkey had picked up a persimmon-seed, and the crab had a piece of toasted rice-cake. The monkey seeing this, and wishing to get something that could be turned to good account at once, said: "Pray, exchange that rice-cake for this persimmon-seed." The crab, without a word, gave up his cake, and took the persimmon-seed and planted it. At once it sprung up, and soon became a tree so high one had to look up at it. The tree was full of persimmons but the crab had no means of climbing the tree. So he asked the monkey to climb up and get the persimmons for him. The monkey got up on a limb of the tree and began to eat the persimmons. The unripe persimmons he threw at the crab, but all the ripe and good ones he put in his pouch. The crab under the tree thus got his shell badly bruised and only by good luck escaped into his hole, where he lay distressed with pain and not able to get up. Now when the relatives and household of the crab heard how matters stood they were surprised and angry, and declared war and attacked the monkey, who leading forth a numerous following bid defiance to the other party. The crabs, finding themselves unable to meet and cope with this force, became still more exasperated and enraged, and retreated into their hole, and held a council of war.

Then came a rice-mortar, a pounder, a bee, and an egg, and together they devised a deep-laid plot to be avenged.

First, they requested that peace be made with the crabs; and thus they induced the king of the monkeys to enter their hole unattended, and seated him on the hearth. The monkey not suspecting any plot, took the hibashi, or poker, to stir up the slumbering fire, when bang! went the egg, which was lying hidden in the ashes, and burned the monkey's arm. Surprised and alarmed he plunged his arm into the pickle-tub in the kitchen to relieve the pain of the burn. Then the bee which was hidden near the tub stung him sharply in his face already wet with tears.

Without waiting to brush off the bee and howling bitterly, he rushed for the back door: but just then some sea-weed entangled his legs and made him slip. Then, down came the pounder tumbling on him from a shelf, and the mortar too came rolling down on him from the roof of the porch, and broke his back and so weakened him that he was unable to rise up. Then out came the crabs in a crowd and brandishing on high their pinchers they pinched the monkey to pieces.

Printed by the Kobunsha in Tokyo, Japan

Narrative of the shipwreck of the brig Betsey, of Wiscasset, Maine, and murder of five of her crew, by pirates









"——quæque ipse miserrima vidi,
Et quorum pars magna fui."




L. S.

BE IT REMEMBERED, That on this twenty-sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five, and the forty-ninth year of the Independence of the United States of America, Mr. John Dorr, of the District of Maine, has deposited in this Office, the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as Proprietor, in the words following, viz:

"Narrative of the Shipwreck of the Brig Betsey, of Wiscasset, and murder of five of her crew, by Pirates, on the coast of Cuba, Dec. 1824. By Daniel Collins, one of the only two survivors.

"——quæque ipse miserrima vidi,
Et quorum pars magna fui."
Wiscasset: Printed by John Dorr. 1825."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;" and also, to an act, entitled, "An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

J. MUSSEY, Clerk of the District Court of Maine.

A true copy as of record.—Attest,

J. Mussey, Clerk D. C. Maine.


On the 28th of November, 1824, I sailed from Wiscasset, (Me.) for Matanzas, in the Island of Cuba, on board the brig Betsey, laden with lumber; our officers and crew consisting of seven, viz. Ellis Hilton, of Wiscasset, master; Joshua Merry, of Edgecomb, 1st mate; Daniel Collins, of Wiscasset, 2d mate; Charles Manuel, (a Portuguese), Seth Russell, and Benj. Bridge, seamen; and Detrey Jeome, cook. On the 18th of December we passed the Berry Islands, and early next morning came to anchor within a league of Orange Key, on the Bahama Banks. It was the morning of the Sabbath, so calm and clear that even the lengthened billows of the Gulf Stream seemed sleeping around us, and the most untutored son of Neptune could not but remember that it was a holy day, consecrated to devotion and rest. Here we continued until noon, when a fresh breeze from the North invited us to weigh anchor and unfurl our sails, which, swelling with a fair wind, were as buoyant as our own spirits, at the increasing prospect of reaching our port of destination.

[Pg 4]Our course was W. S. W. that afternoon and night. At 4 o'clock next morning, by order of Capt. Hilton, who had been sick most of the passage out, and was now unable to appear on deck during the night, we kept her away one point, steering S. W. by W. calculating the current easterly at three knots, which he supposed would clear us of the Double Headed Shot Keys.

About sunset, a dark and stormy night approaching, I suggested to our Captain the propriety of shortening sail, to which he would not assent, presuming we might get into Matanzas the next day. The night was so dark that we could not discover objects distinctly beyond the length of the vessel, and the wind blew more than an usual wholesale breeze, which drove her, heavy-laden as she was, at the rate of 9 knots, calculating ourselves more than 6 leagues to the windward of the Double Headed Shot Keys. At half past 2 o'clock I was relieved at the helm, and after casting a glance over the lee side and discovering no alteration in the appearance of the water, I observed to my shipmate at the helm, "there is no fear of you"—went below and turned in with my clothes on. No one was below at this time except the Captain, who stood at the foot of the companion way viewing the appearance of the weather.

I had been in my birth about half an hour when I felt a tremendous shock, which covered me with the muskets that were over head, boxes, barrels and other cabin articles; the water pouring into my birth[Pg 5] through the quarter. I cleared myself by a violent effort, ran for the companion way—it was gone—turned—leaped through the sky light, and was on deck in an instant. We were in the hollow of a sea, and I could just discern over our main peak the dark top of the rock, which we had struck, stem on, then going at the rate of nine knots. This rock, which some of our crew supposed to be a wreck, was concealed from the helmsman by the mainsail. Two of the crew were at the pumps—the deck load, which consisted of boards, scantlings and oars, piled on each side as high as their heads—the other two people were probably on the quarter deck. It was a careless watch for a dark night, even at our supposed distance from the Keys; but we were now in no situation to complain. A part of our stern and the yawl at the davits, had gone together. I ran forward to clear the anchors in order to prevent her from ranging ahead on another rock which I could perceive among the surf; but a greater part of the bows were gone, and with them the anchors.—The water was already groaning under the deck—she arose for the last time on the crest of another sea nearly to the top of the rock, quivering like a bird under its death-wound. Our Captain and crew were around the long-boat endeavoring to cut the leashings and right her, while I secured a compass, an axe, a bucket and several oars. The next sea we descended she struck; opened fore and aft, the masts and spars, with all sails standing, thundering against the rock, and the lumber from below deck[Pg 6] cracking and crashing in every direction. We were all launched overboard on the lumber that adhered together, clinging hold of the long-boat as the seaman's last ark of refuge, and endeavoring to right her, which we did in a few moments; but not without the misfortune of splitting a plank in her bottom. We all sprang in, bearing with us nothing but the sea clothes we had on, the few articles before named, and some fragments of the boat's leashings. The Captain's dog, which a few moments before had been leaping from plank to plank after the cat, with as determined an enmity as though the pursuit had been through a farmyard, followed us; a companion by no means unwelcome to those, who, without provision or water, might have been compelled to depend on this faithful animal for the preservation of their lives.

A new difficulty now presented itself: Our boat leaked so fast that three hands, two with hats and one with the bucket, were unable to free her; but with the aid of the only knife we had saved, and the fragments of the leashings, I filled some of the seams, which helped to free her; but not so effectually as to relieve a single hand from bailing.

About a league from the rock we hung on our oars, watching the sea that ran mountains high, until day-light, when we pulled up under its lee, but could discover neither fresh water nor a particle of provisions, except a few pieces of floating bread that we dared not eat. Fragments of boards and spars were floating here and there, but the only article either of convenience[Pg 7] or comfort we could preserve was a large blanket, which was converted into a sail and set; and being compelled by the violence of the sea, we put her away before the wind, steering S. half E.—a course that must have carried us far East of our intended track, had it not been for the strong Westerly current in St. Nicholas' Channel.

The rock on which we were wrecked, and from which we took our departure in the boat, proved to be one of the N. E. range of the Double Headed Shot Keys.

We steered the above course all that day, bailing and rowing without a moment's cessation, and approaching, as was then supposed, the Island of Cuba, the coast of which, except the entrance of Matanzas and Havana, was unknown to us. We knew, however, that the whole coast was lined with dangerous shoals and keys, though totally ignorant of the situation of those East of Point Yeacos. An hundred times during the day, were our eyes directed to every point of the compass, in search of a sail, but in vain—we were too far to the eastward of the usual track to Matanzas.

As night approached the danger of our situation increased. We had all been fatigued—some of us much bruised, by the disasters of the preceding night; and our toils during the day, as may well be conceived, were not much relieved by an incessant rowing and bailing, without a particle of food to assuage our hunger or one drop of fresh water to cool our parched tongues. Anxiety was depicted in every visage, and[Pg 8] our spirits were clouding like the heavens over them. Capt. Hilton, whose sickness and debility had been increased by fatigue and hunger, could no longer smother the feelings that were struggling within.—The quivering lip, the dim eye, the pallid cheek, all told us, as plainly as human expression could tell, that the last ray of that hope which had supported him during the day, was now fading away before the coming night. I had seen much more of rough service and weather than any one on board, and having been blessed with an excellent constitution, made it my duty to encourage the rest, by representing our approach to the Island as certain and safe; this seemed to stimulate increased exertion at the oars, and the breeze continuing fair, we made good head-way. About midnight, Capt. Hilton's oar touched something which he supposed bottom, but which the blade of the oar discovered to be a shark that followed us next morning. Deeming us, therefore, over some dangerous shoal, he gave full vent to his feelings, by observing, that if even we were to escape these dangerous shoals, our distance from the Island was so great, that we could never endure hunger, thirst and the fatigue of bailing long enough to reach it. I endeavored to convince him that we must reach the land by another night, in the direction we were steering. The disheartened crew soon caught the contagious and fatal despair which the Captain had incautiously diffused among them. In vain did I expostulate with him on the necessity of continuing our exertions at the oars—he burst into tears, kneeled[Pg 9] down in the bottom of the boat and implored Divine protection. It is true our hold on life was a frail one. In an open boat, that from leaking and the violence of the sea we could scarcely keep above water—without food, drink, or clothing sufficient to defend us from the cold and rain of a December Norther—in an irregular and rapid current that prevented any correct calculation of our course—on an unknown and dangerous coast, without a chart to guide us.

In a state of mind bordering on that insanity which is sometimes caused by hunger, thirst and despair united, we passed a most perilous night. At the very first dawn of light every eye was again in search of a sail. A small dark speck on the ocean was descried ahead, about 5 leagues distant! The joyful sound of land ran through our nerves like an electric shock, and gave new life to the oars. The wind being fair, the aid of our sail, which was equal to two additional oars, gave us such head way, that as the rays of the rising sun sported over the tops of the waves and fell on the small spot of land ahead, we found ourselves nearing one of the Cuba Keys.

The land we first discovered was a little Island of about three acres, that arose above the surrounding key, as high as the tops of the mangroves. The name of this key—the largest of its group[A]—was of so[Pg 10] sacred an import, that one would have supposed it had been a refuge no less from the storms of persecution, than those of the element around it.

[A] There are about 700 of the Bahama Keys in groups or clusters, the greater part of which are overflown two or three feet, and covered with mangrove bushes from 10 to 15 feet high, the roots of which are very numerous and rise above water. The largest of the groups generally contain a small spot of dry land, and are distinguished by appropriate names.

Cruz del Padre, or the Cross of our Father, situated in W. long. 80° 5´ and N. lat. 23° 11´—is about 27 leagues E. by N. from Matanzas. It is a long, narrow key, of whose size we could not accurately judge.—Around its North side about a league distant from the shore, was a semi-circular reef, over which the sea broke as far as the eye extended. It was a tremendous battery in a storm, and were I approaching it in an American squadron, I should fear its ground tier more than all the cabanas of the Morro. But hunger and thirst are powerful antidotes to fear. We therefore boldly approached it with confidence in that divine interposition which had been recently so signally displayed towards us. Availing ourselves of the deepest water and the swell of a sea, we were hurried on the top of a breaker, that shook our long-boat like an aspin leaf and nearly filled her with water; but in a moment she was floating on a beautiful bay that presented to the eye "the smooth surface of a summer's sea."

The Northern boundary of this bay was formed by the reef, making the inner part of a crescent—the Southern, by two long lines of mangroves on each side, and a small beach of beautiful white pipe clay, that formed the front of the little Island in the centre. The distance across was about three miles, two of which we had already passed, directly for the beach, a few rods from which as we had previously discovered,[Pg 11] were two Huts, inhabited by fishermen, whom we could now see passing in and out. When at the above distance from the reef, our attention was suddenly arrested by the appearance of two wrecks of vessels, of too large a size, one would have supposed, to have beaten over the reef. As the water grew shoaler I could see an even pipe clay bottom, on which our boat grounded an hundred yards from the shore. One of the inhabitants came off in a flat bottom'd log canoe about 25 feet long and 2-1/2 wide, hailed us in Spanish, demanding who we were, and was answered by Manuel our Portuguese.

As this Spaniard, who was the head fisherman, came along side, he was recognized by Capt. Hilton as the same of whom he had purchased some sugars the voyage before at Matanzas.

The two huts we have named were formed of the planks and cabin boards of wrecks, about 7 feet high, and 10 by 15 on the ground, with thatched roofs. At the N. E. corner was a group of old weather-beaten trees, the only ones above the height of a mangrove on the Island, on which the fishermen hung their nets. In front of the beach was a turtle troll about 15 feet square, surrounded by a frame, from which were suspended a great number of wooden hooks, on which their fish were hung, and partially preserved, by drying in the sea breeze. It was about 8 o'clock in the morning when we were conducted into one of the huts, and as we had had neither food nor drink for nearly two days and nights, some refreshment, consisting of[Pg 12] turtle and other fish, hot coffee, &c. was immediately provided.

After our refreshment, some sails were spread on the ground, on which we were invited to repose. My shipmates readily accepted the invitation; but I had seen too much of Spanish infidelity, under the cloak of hospitality, to omit an anchor watch, even in our present snug harbour.

There were five fishermen, all stout, well built Spaniards, the master of whom was over six feet, and had much the appearance of an American Indian.—My companions were soon in a "dead sleep," and when the fishermen had left the hut, I walked out to explore our new habitation. The two huts were so near that a gutter only separated them, which caught the water from the roofs of each and conducted it into a hogshead bedded in the sand, from which other casks were filled against a drought; the fresh water thus obtained being all the Island furnished. West of the beach was a small bay, in the centre of which was an Island about a mile in circumference. At the head of this bay a creek made up several rods into the mangroves, which served as a harbour for a small fishing vessel of about twelve tons, decked over, in which they carried their fish to Matanzas and elsewhere about the Island of Cuba. East of the beach was a Cove that extended about a quarter of a mile into the bushes, forming a kind of basin at its head, which was as still as a millpond. This basin was surrounded by thick mangroves, and completely concealed from every thing without by[Pg 13] the jutting out of a point at its entrance. A more lonely place I never saw. Around its borders a "solitary guest," you might see the Flamingo[B] strutting in all the pride of its crimson plumage, as erect and nearly as high as a British soldier. The bottom of this Cove was like that of the bay.

[B] The Flamingo, it is said, builds its nest on the Bahama Keys. It is a superb bird, covered, the third year, with bright crimson feathers, except the tip of its wings, which are black. This appearance, added to its erect posture, which brings its head nearly as high as that of a man's, has given it among the natives the appellation of the "British soldier."

The mangroves are very thick,—their trunks covered with oyster-shells that adhere to them like barnacles to a vessel's bottom, which annoy those who attempt to pass among them, by tearing their clothes and wounding the flesh as high up as the hips.

Among the bushes were concealed two clinker-built boats, remarkably well constructed for rowing, with their bottoms greased or soaped; in one of which I found a handkerchief filled with limes: I took one and brought it into the house;—this displeased the fishermen, who afterwards told Manuel that the boats and limes belonged to some people at a small distance, who would return in a few days. There were also two yawls moored in front of the huts, that appeared to have belonged to American vessels.

When I returned to the hut, my shipmates were yet asleep, and we did not awake them until supper was prepared, which was much the same with our breakfast, except the addition of plantain. After supper we all set around the table devising means to get to Matanzas.[Pg 14] Through Manuel, Capt. Hilton offered the master fisherman our long-boat and forty dollars in cash, on our arrival at Matanzas, which was accepted, and we were to sail in their small schooner as soon as the weather would permit. About 8 or 9 o'clock, we all turned in, but my suspicions would not allow me to sleep; for when all was silent, I could hear the Spaniards conversing with each other in a low tone, on which I spake to Manuel with the hope that he might understand the subject of their consultation; but he, like his companions, was too sound asleep to be easily awakened. A lamp of fish oil had been dimly burning for two or three hours, when the master fisherman arose and extinguished it. About this time an old dog belonging to the fishermen, commenced a most hideous howling without, that was occasionally answered by our dog within. Supposing some boat might be approaching, I went out, but could discover no living being in motion. It was a star light-night, the wind blowing fresh with a few flying scuds. When I returned into the hut, I set down between two barrels of bread, against one of which I leaned my head, prepared to give an early warning of any foul play that might befal us; but the night passed without any incident to interrupt the slumbers of my weary messmates.

Early in the morning they turned out and we went down to the Cove before described, in order to bathe. While we were clothing ourselves on the shore at the head of the Cove, we discovered, at high-water mark, a number of human skeletons—(except the skulls)[Pg 15]—bleached and partly decayed. The bones of the fingers, hands and ribs were entire. To me this was no very pleasant discovery, and I observed to Mr. Merry that "we might all be murdered in such a place without the possibility of its being known"; but the bones were, at the time, supposed to have belonged to seamen that might have been shipwrecked on the reef near this part of the key.

On our return to the hut we found breakfast awaiting us. This day we spent in rambling about the Island, and were generally followed by two of the fishermen, who manifested more than usual vigilance. During this as well as the preceding day they suspended their usual occupation, and passed their time in loitering about. My suspicions were increased by a number of circumstances to such a degree, that I urged Capt. Hilton to depart in our own boat bad as she was; but he expressed great confidence in the head fisherman, from his previous acquaintance with him at Matanzas.

As we had made arrangements to depart the next morning, all hands were preparing to turn in at an early hour when the master fisherman observed, it was too hot to sleep in the house, drew his blanket over his shoulders and went out.

It is a little singular that such a circumstance should not have produced on the minds of my shipmates the same effect it did on mine, as the weather was then uncomfortably cool to me within the hut. But in justice to them I ought to add, that a singular dream the[Pg 16] night before our shipwreck, had produced on my mind a kind of sailor's superstition, which banished sleep from my eyes, even now while they were enjoying its refreshing influence.

After I had paced the room several times, one of the fishermen arose and extinguished the light, and when all was still, I went to the door that had been fastened after the master fisherman, drew the bolt without disturbing any one, and went out. At the threshold of the door I found an axe which I took in my hand, walked around the hut several times, but could not discover the object of my search. I at length found his blanket tucked up among the thatch under the eaves of the hut, and immediately re-entered the room to tell my companions I was apprehensive that this strange departure of the Spaniard was influenced by another motive than that expressed.

He could not go far without wading in the water, which was two or three feet deep all over this extensive key, except the spot around the huts, on which he was not to be found; and it is well known to mariners, that these keys are dissected by numerous creeks like the one already described, which in some instances extend miles among the mangrove bushes, where a sea robber might conceal himself for months without the fear of detection.

Without disturbing the Spaniards, I shook Mr. Merry and whispered to him my suspicions, on which we both went to the door and sat down to await the fisherman's return. When I first awaked him he trembled with fear[Pg 17] that some unnatural fate awaited us. But the night passed without any further disturbance, and at day-light we all, by previous arrangement, commenced loading the two canoes, (which were of the same dimensions of that already described) by wading off to them with the fish in our arms. It was about sunrise when we had completed loading, and while we were all in the huts, the master fisherman suddenly entered—saluted Capt. Hilton in Spanish, and requested all our people and three of his own to accompany him to the schooner before named, in order to haul her out of the creek and moor her off, preparatory to our departure: this we did with no little labor, wading into the mud and water breast high. After we had anchored her about half a mile abreast of the huts, and discharged the fish from the canoes into her, we returned to the huts to breakfast.

When the master fisherman returned in the morning, I observed that his trowsers were wet up to his hips, and he appeared as though he had been wading several miles.

After breakfast we finished loading the little schooner, and returned to the huts to bring down some small stores. As we were all standing before the huts, the master fisherman was seen pointing to the Eastward and laughing with his companions. On looking in the direction he was pointing, I discovered the object of his amusement to be a small vessel just doubling an Easterly point of the key, about seven miles distant within the Reef, and bearing away for us. I had too often[Pg 18] seen the grin of a Spaniard accompanied with the stab of his stiletto, to pass the circumstance unnoticed. By my request Manuel inquired of the Spaniards what vessel it was, and received for answer, that "it was the King's Cutter in search of Pirates." This answer satisfied us, and in a short time we were all hands, the master fisherman and three of his crew, on board our vessel. As soon as we were ready to weigh anchor, observing the Spaniard intent on watching the "Cutter," and delaying unnecessarily to get under way, I began to hoist the foresail, on which, he, for the first time, sang out to me in broken English, "no foresail, no foresail." By this time the sail was within three quarters of a mile of us. As I stood on the forecastle watching her, I saw one of her people forward, pointing at us what I supposed a spy glass; but in an instant the report of a musket and whistle of a bullet by my ears, convinced me of my mistake. This was followed by the discharge of, at least, twenty blunderbusses and muskets, from which the balls flew like hail-stones, lodging in various parts of our schooner; one of which pierced my trowsers and another Mr. Merry's jacket, without any essential injury.

At the commencement of the firing the four fishermen concealed themselves below deck, out of danger, and our Portuguese attempting to follow their example was forced back. I remained on the forecastle watching the vessel until the whistleing of six or seven bullets by my ears, warned me of my danger. At first I settled down on my knees, still anxious to ascertain the[Pg 19] cause of this unprovoked outrage, until they approached within two or three hundred feet of us, when I prostrated myself on the deck, soon after which, the master fisherman arose, waved his hat at them, and the firing ceased. About forty or fifty feet abreast of us, she dropped anchor and gave orders for the canoe at our stern to come along side, which one of our fishermen obeyed, and brought on board of us their Captain and three men. The supposed Cutter was an open boat of about thirty-five feet keel, painted red inside and black without, except a streak of white about two inches wide; calculated for rowing or sailing—prepared with long sweeps, and carrying a jib, foresail, mainsail, and squaresail. She was manned by ten Spaniards, each armed with a blunderbuss, or musket, a machete,[C] long knife, and pair of pistols. They were all dressed with neat jackets and trowsers, and wore palm-leaf hats. Their beards were very long, and appeared as though they had not been shaved for eight or nine months.[D]

[C] A long, straight Spanish sword, with a thick back, and generally very sharp.

[D] The Pirates, it is said, wear long beards, that the change in their appearance, produced by shaving, may prevent their being recognized when they remingle with society.

One of them had an extremely savage appearance, having received a blow, probably from a cutlass, across his face, that had knocked in all his front teeth and cut off a part of his upper lip, the scar extending some distance beyond the angles of the mouth—three of the fingers of his left hand, with a part of the little finger,[Pg 20] were cut off, and the thumb was badly scarred. He was tall, well proportioned, and appeared to have some authority over the others. The Captain was stout, and so corpulent that I should not underrate his weight at 260 pounds. He reminded me strongly of a Guinea Captain I had formerly seen. He was shaved after the manner of the Turks; the beard of his upper lip being very long—was richly dressed—armed with a machete and knife on one side, and a pair of pistols on the other; besides which, he wore a dirk within his vest. After examining our papers, which had been accidentally saved by Capt. Hilton, he took out of a net purse, two doubloons, and presented them to the master fisherman in presence of all hands. This, we at first supposed to be intended as some compensation for the injury done, by firing at us. The account of our shipwreck, sufferings, and providential escape to the Island, was now related to him, by Manuel, which he noticed, by a slight shrug of the shoulders, without changing a single muscle of his face. He had a savage jeer in his look during the recital of our misfortunes, that would have robbed misery of her ordinary claims to compassion, and denied the unhappy sufferer even a solitary expression of sympathy.

"There was a laughing Devil in his sneer, That raised emotions both of rage and fear; And where his frown of hatred darkly fell, Hope withering fled—and Mercy sighed farewell!" [Byron's Corsair.

After he had ascertained who we were, he returned to his own boat with three of his men, leaving one on[Pg 21] board of us as a kind of prize master. Our master fisherman, who also accompanied him, was greeted by all on board the armed vessel in a manner that denoted him to have been an old acquaintance. We could see them passing to each other a long white jug, which, after they had all drank, they shook at us, saying in broken English, "Anglois, vill you have some Aquedente?" to which we made no reply. When they had apparently consulted among themselves about half an hour, they sent two men, with the jug, on board of us, from which we all drank sparingly, in order to avoid offence, and they returned to their own vessel, took in two more men and proceeded to the huts, which they entered and went around several times, then came down to our long boat and examined her carefully. After this they came off to our vessel with the two canoes, one of which, went to the armed boat and brought on board of us, all but the Captain and two of his men. Our little crew had thus far been the anxious spectators of these mysterious manœuvres.

There were circumstances which at one time encouraged the belief that we were in the hands of friends, and at another, that these pretended friends were calmly preparing for a "foul and most unnatural murder." Capt. Hilton was unwilling yet to yield his confidence in the treacherous Spaniard, who, I did not doubt, had already received the price of our blood. In this state of painful suspense, vibrating between hope and fear, we remained, until the master fisherman threw on the deck a ball of cord, made of tough, strong[Pg 22] bark, about the size of a man's thumb, from which they cut seven pieces of about nine feet each—went to Capt. Hilton and attempted to take off his over-coat, but were prevented by a signal from their Captain. They now commenced binding his arms behind him just above the elbows with one of the pieces of cord, which they passed several times round, and drew so tight, that he groaned out in all the bitterness of his anguish.[E]

[E] Capt. Hilton had before been taken by the Pirates, and most cruelly abused, in order to extort from him a disclosure of some money which they supposed was concealed on board; but after they had ascertained that this was not the case, they robbed him of every thing on and about his person and let him go.

My fears that they were Pirates were now confirmed; and when I saw them, without temptation or provocation, cruelly torturing one whom shipwreck had thrown among them, a penniless sailor, reduced by sickness to an almost helpless condition, and entreating with all the tenderness of a penitent that they would not cut him off in the blossom of his sins, and before he had reached the meridian of life—reminding them of the wife and parents he left behind, I burst into tears and arose involuntarily as if to sell my life at the dearest rate, but was shoved back by one of the Pirates who gave me a severe blow on the breast with the muzzle of his cocked blunderbuss. A scene of wo ensued which would have tried the stoutest heart, and it appeared to me that even they endeavored to divert their minds from it, by a constant singing and laughing, so loud as to drown the sound of our lamentations.[Pg 23]—After they had told Manuel they should carry us to Matanzas as prisoners of war, they proceeded to pinion our arms as they had Capt. Hilton's, so tight as to produce excruciating pain.

We were now completely in their power, and they rolled us about with as much indifference as though we had been incapable of feeling, tumbling us into the canoes without mercy. They threw me with such force that I struck the back of my neck against the seat of the canoe and broke it. Capt. Hilton, Mr. Merry, Bridge, and the Cook were in one canoe; Russell, Manuel, and myself in the other. For the first time they now informed us that they were about to cut our throats, which information they accompanied with the most appaling signs, by drawing their knives across their throats, imitating stabbing and various other tortures. Four Pirates accompanied the other canoe and three ours, besides the four fishermen, two to manage each canoe. We were thus carried along side the piratical schooner, when all their fire arms were passed on board of her; the arm chest, which was in the stern sheets and covered with a tarpaulin, opened, several long knives and machetes taken out, their keen edges examined with the greatest scrutiny and passed on board the canoes for the expressed purpose of murdering us all.

The seven Pirates and four fishermen, as before, now proceeded with us toward the beach until the water was about three feet deep, when they all got out; the two fishermen to each canoe, hauling us along,[Pg 24] and the Pirates walking by the side of us, one to each of our crew, torturing us all the way by drawing their knives across our throats, grasping the same, and pushing us back under the water which had been taken in by rocking the canoes. While some of us were in the most humiliating manner beseeching of them to spare our lives, and others with uplifted eyes were again supplicating that Divine mercy which had preserved them from the fury of the elements, they were singing and laughing, and occasionally telling us in broken English, that "Americans were very good beef for their knives." Thus they proceeded with us nearly a mile from the vessel, which we were now losing sight of by doubling a point at the entrance of the Cove before described; and when within a few rods of its head, where we had before seen the human bones, the canoes were hauled abreast of each other, from twelve to twenty feet apart, preparatory to our execution.

The stillness of death was now around us—for the very flood-gates of feeling had been burst asunder and exhausted grief at its fountain. It was a beautiful morning—not a cloud to obscure the rays of the sun—and the clear blue sky presented a scene too pure for deeds of darkness. But the lonely sheet of water, on which, side by side, we lay, presented that hopeless prospect which is more ably described by another.

"———. No friend, no refuge near; All, all is false and treacherous around; All that they touch, or taste, or breathe, is Death."

We had scarcely passed the last parting look at each other, when the work of death commenced.

[Pg 25]They seized Captain Hilton by the hair—bent his head and shoulders over the gun-wale, and I could distinctly hear them chopping the bone of the neck. They then wrung his neck, separated the head from the body by a slight draw of the sword, and let it drop into the water;—there was a dying shriek—a convulsive struggle—and all I could discern was the arms dangling over the side of the canoe, and the ragged stump pouring out the blood like a torrent.

There was an imploring look in the innocent and youthful face of Mr. Merry that would have appealed to the heart of any one but a Pirate. As he arose on his knees, in the posture of a penitent, supplicating for mercy even on the verge of eternity, he was prostrated with a blow of the cutlass, his bowels gushing out of the wound. They then pierced him through the breast in several places with a long pointed knife, and cut his throat from ear to ear.

The Captain's dog, repulsed in his repeated attempts to rescue his master, sat whining beside his lifeless body, looking up to these blood hounds in human shape, as if to tell them, that even brutal cruelty would be glutted with the blood of two innocent, unoffending victims.

Bridge and the Cook, they pierced through the breast, as they had Merry, in several places with their knives, and then split their heads open with their cutlasses.—Their dying groans had scarcely ceased, and I was improving the moment of life that yet remained, when I heard the blow behind me—the blood and brains that flew all over my head and shoulders, warned[Pg 26] me that poor old Russel had shared the fate of the others; and as I turned my head to catch the eye of my executioner, I saw the head of Russel severed in two nearly its whole length, with a single blow of the cutlass, and even without the decency of removing his cap. At the sound of the blow, Manuel, who sat before me, leaped over board, and four of the Pirates were in full chase after him. In what manner he loosed his hands, I am unable to say—his escape, I shall hereafter explain. My eyes were fixed on my supposed executioner, watching the signal of my death—he was on my right and partly behind me—my head, which was covered with a firm tarpaulin hat, was turned in a direction that brought my shoulders fore and aft the canoe—the blow came—it divided the top of my hat, struck my head so severely as to stun me, and glanced off my left shoulder, taking the skin and some flesh in its way, and divided my pinion cord on the arm. I was so severely stunned that I did not leap from the canoe, but pitched over the left side, and was just arising from the water, not yet my length from her, as a Pirate threw his knife which struck me, but did not retard my flight an instant; and I leaped forward through the water, expecting a blow from behind at every step.

The shrieks of the dying had ceased—the scene of horrid butchery in the canoes was now over—Manuel and I were in the water about knee deep—two of the Pirates after me, and all the rest, with the fishermen, except one Pirate, after Manuel. We ran in different[Pg 27] directions; I, towards the mouth of the Cove, making nearly a semicircle in my track, to keep them over my shoulder, which brought me back again towards the canoes; and as the remaining Pirate came out in order to cut me off, I was obliged to run between the canoes, so near the last Pirate, that he made a pass at me and fell, which gave me the start. At the first of our race, I was after Manuel, with Pirates before and behind. My object was to gain the bushes as soon as possible, supposing their cutlasses would be an obstacle, which I had the good fortune to prove. I lost sight of Manuel just as I entered the bushes; he was up to his breast in water, and the Pirates near him. When I entered the bushes one of the Pirates was within ten feet of me, and continued striking, hoping to reach me; and all of them yelling in the most savage manner, during the whole distance. The most of the way, the water and mud was nearly up to my hips—the mangroves were very thick, covered, as I before observed, with oyster shells up to high water mark. It was about noon when I entered these bushes, my course Westerly, the Pirates after me, repeatedly in view, one of them frequently within three rods of me. Had it been on cleared land, I should soon have been overtaken by them; but the bushes were so large and thick as frequently to entangle their swords. I was barefoot; and had I worn shoes, they would soon have been lost in the mud. My feet and legs were so badly cut with the oyster shells, that the blood flowed freely; add to this, my head was very painful[Pg 28] and swollen, and my shoulder smarted severely. In this manner and direction I ran till the sun about an hour high, when I lost sight of the Pirates and paused for a moment, pulled off my jacket (the cord being yet on my right arm, which I slipped off) in which I rolled my hat, and taking it under my arm, I settled down on my knees, which brought the water up to my chin, in order to secrete myself. In this way I crept till nearly sunset, when, to my astonishment, I discovered the ocean, and just as the sun was setting, I crawled out to the border of the Island. I looked round and saw a very large bush of mangroves, the highest near, among the roots of which, I concealed myself. When the sun was setting, I could distinctly hear the splashing of water and cracking of bushes, and the Pirates hallooing to each other, which increased my apprehensions, supposing they might discover my track through the muddy water. I was almost exhausted from a severe pain in my side, caused by running so long, though I had determined not to yield to them until I fell under the blow of their cutlass. Soon after the sun was down their noise ceased, and I crept up to the top of the tall mangrove, put on my hat and jacket, where I set all night, until the sun rose the next morning, that I might discover if they had come round the Island to intercept my passage.

As I ran through the bushes, I disturbed numberless birds, among which was the Flamingo, who was extremely bold, flying around me with such a noise, that I feared it would betray me, by serving as a guide to my pursuers.

[Pg 29]When the sun had arisen, without a cloud, I could discover nothing to increase my apprehension. I descended the mangrove and proceeded to the border of the Key—looked across the water before me, where lay another Key, which I judged 2 1-2 or 3 miles distant. Here I stripped myself to my shirt, the sleeves of which I tore off, and with my trowsers, threw them into the sea. I then tied my jacket, which was of broad cloth, by means of the cord that was on my arm, slung it over my neck, and put my hat on, to protect my wounded head from the sun. In this plight I committed myself to the sea, first supplicating, on my knees, a Divine blessing on my undertaking; but doubting whether I should ever reach the opposite Key. Being, however, an excellent swimmer, having before swum nearly 2 miles on a wager, I reached the opposite Key without any other injury than the galling my neck with the cord; and with much less fatigue than I could have supposed. This Key was much of the description of the last, but smaller. I made but little pause, continuing my course South Westerly across it, which was, I should suppose, about three miles; and as I had not hurried, owing to my fatigue, when I arrived at its border, it was about the middle of the afternoon. At about 2 miles distance, I descried another Key, to which I swam, slinging my jacket as before. When I arrived at this, which was the third Key, it was a little before sunset. I proceeded into the bushes about three-fourths of a mile, it being a small Key, and came out nearly to its[Pg 30] margin, where I passed the night, leaning against a bunch of mangroves, with the water up to my hips. Such had been my fatigue and mental excitement, that even in this unpleasant situation, I slept soundly, until I was disturbed by a vision of the horrible scene in the canoes—the images of Capt. Hilton and Mr. Merry, mangled as when I last saw them, came before my eyes; and in my fancied attempt to rescue them, I awoke, but could not convince myself it was a dream, until I grasped my own flesh. Again I slept interruptedly until day-light. Being excessively hungry, for this was the third day since I had taken a single particle of food or drink, I plucked some of the greenest of the leaves; this relieved my hunger but increased my thirst. About sun-rise I departed from this Key, wading with the water, at times, up to my neck, for nearly a mile, when it grew deeper.

The next and fourth Key, being about another mile distant, I swam to. This day I kept on about the same course, South Westerly, and crossed three more small Keys, about a mile distant from each other. I had now arrived at the seventh and last Key; on this I passed the night, having prepared a kind of flake of old roots, on which I slept soundly, for the first time out of water, since I left Cruz del Padre. Between day-light and sun-rise, having eaten of the green leaves as before, and having been refreshed by sleep, I departed from the last Key; by this time so weak that I could scarcely walk. The water was not so deep but I could wade until within half a mile of[Pg 31] what afterward proved to be Cuba; but of which I was ignorant at the time.

While I was crossing this last passage, I had to contend with a strong current probably from the mouth of the very river I afterward forded; and when but a few rods from the shore a Shark approached within a rod; but to my great joy, he turned and left me.

I had now swam about nine miles beside the distance I had travelled through mud and water, and the hunger and thirst I had endured, having tasted neither food nor drink, except a few salt leaves of mangroves, during my flight. And to add to my sufferings, my almost naked body was covered with moschetoes, attracted by the blood and sores produced by my escape from Cruz del Padre.

Observing that this shore varied a little from those I had passed, I followed it in an Easterly direction, which was reversing my former course, for nearly two miles, when I came to a large yawl, with her foremast standing. As I set me down on her gun-wale, the thought struck my mind that this boat, like our own, might have preserved some unfortunate crew from the fury of the storm, in order to offer them up to the pitiless Pirate, who, perhaps, had not suffered a solitary individual to escape and say, that the vengeance of man, on these encrimsoned shores, had sacrificed those whom the mercy of God had spared amid the dangers of his "mighty deep." While I was employed by these reflections, the gnawings of hunger were suddenly aroused by the appearance of two[Pg 32] Craw-fish under the stern sheets; one of which, I caught and devoured with such greediness, that it was very soon rejected; and although I at first thought I could have eaten a dozen of them, the exhaustion, produced by my efforts to vomit, destroyed all relish for the other.

I again proceeded on my old course, South Westerly, until about the middle of the afternoon, when I approached dry land, and set me down on a wind-fall to contemplate my situation; to a description of which, I might well have adapted the language of Job: "My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken and become loathsome." Near the roots of this tree, as I sat viewing some holes formed by land crabs, I observed water issuing from one of them. A more grateful and unexpected sight the Israelites could not have witnessed at the smitten rock; for I soon found the water proceeded from a boiling spring: and without it, I am sure I could not have survived another day; for it will be recollected that this was the first fresh water I had tasted since the morning my shipmates were murdered. But pure as it was, my parched stomach would not retain it, until after repeated trials, I succeeded in quenching my thirst. I again proceeded South Westerly, the land gradually elevating, until there suddenly opened upon me an immense plain, where the eye could reach over thousands of acres without the obstruction of a tree, covered with cattle of every age and description; some of which came snuffing around, so near, that in my crippled[Pg 33] condition, I feared they might board me. But a swing of my hat set them capering and snorting in every direction. The number and variety of wild cattle collected on these plains is immense. I should think I saw more than five hundred hogs, chiefly of a dark colour, and more than half that number of horses, principally white; bulls, and cows with calves by their sides, goats, mules, &c.

I travelled on my course with as much rapidity as my feeble and exhausted condition would allow, until dusk, when I arrived at the bank of a small River;[F] here I reposed uninterruptedly until day-light next morning. When I first attempted to arise, my limbs refused their duty; and I was compelled to sieze hold of a bush that was near, in order to raise myself upon my feet. This is not strange, when we consider the fatigue and hunger I had endured, the wounds all over my limbs, and the numbness produced by sleeping without a covering, exposed to the dampness that arises from a fresh water river, in a climate like that of Cuba.

[F] Probably the River Valma.

I paused on the bank a few moments observing the current, in order to ascertain the direction of its source, towards which, I proceeded, travelling on the bank until noon, when I entered a beautiful lime grove, the fruit of which, completely strewed the ground. After I had devoured as many of these, rind and all, as satisfied the cravings of hunger, I filled my jacket pockets,[Pg 34] fearing I might not again meet with such a timely supply.

By this time I had discovered a winding foot path, formed by droves of wild cattle; but in vain did I search for the impression of a human foot step. This path I followed until it lead to a fording place in the river, where I paused, dreading the effect of fresh water on my sores, some of which had begun to scab over. But my situation would not admit delay; I therefore forded the river, which had been so swollen by recent rains, that I was compelled to wade up to my arm-pits. This produced the apprehended effect; for I had no sooner reached the opposite shore, than my sores began to bleed afresh, and smart severely. My supply of limes recruited my strength sufficiently to pursue my path until sunset, when I again halted and set me down on a log.

The only article of clothing I had to cover my nakedness, was my jacket; for the body of my shirt, I had left on one of the Keys, fearing that the blood stains upon it, might bring on me some unjust suspicion. My numerous sores, owing to the alternate influence of heat and fresh water, had now become so offensive as to occasion a violent retching, that nearly overcame the feeble powers of my stomach; and had it not been for my providential supply of limes, that afterward, in some degree corrected their fœtor, I must have laid me down by this log, a mass of corruption, and given my body up a prey to the birds and wild beasts of the forest. The reader will not think this[Pg 35] an exaggeration; for while I was sitting here, the numerous Turkey-buzzards that were roosting over my head, attracted by my offensive smell, alighted within a few feet of me, and began to attack each other with as much ferocity as if they were already contending for their prey. I arose, as if to convince them that I yet possessed the power of motion; though I doubted within myself whether they would not have possession of me before the setting of another sun. But onward I travelled as far and as fast as my feeble condition would permit, until it was too dark to follow the path, when I laid down and passed a restless night, annoyed, as usual, with moschetoes. In the morning I arose feeble and dejected; and in my prayers, which I had daily addressed to Him whose mercy-seat had so often covered me from the tempest, and whose "pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night" had not yet forsaken me in the wilderness, I desired that I might meet this day, (the sixth of my miraculous escape,) some being to whom I could relate my sufferings, and the murder of my companions, as an appeal to my country, (bound as she is, to protect the humblest of her citizens,) to arise in the majesty of her naval power, and stay the hands of those who are colouring these barbarous shores with the blood of her enterprising seamen.

My life glass appeared to be nearly up, and I now began to yield all hopes of being relieved. My feet and limbs began to swell, from the inflammation of the sores, and my limes, the only sustenance I had,[Pg 36] although they preserved life, began to create gnawing pains in my stomach and bowels. I however wandered on, following the intricate windings of the path, until the middle of the forenoon, when I discovered, directly in the way, several husks of corn, and soon after, some small sticks like bean poles, that had evidently been sharpened at one end by some human hand. This discovery, trifling as it may appear, renewed my spirits and strength to such a degree, that I made very little pause until about sun-set, when I espied in the path, not a great distance ahead, a man on horse back, surrounded by nearly twenty dogs! Fearing he might not observe me, I raised my hat upon my walking stick, as a signal for him to approach. The quick-scented dogs were soon on the start, and when I saw that they resembled blood hounds,[G] I had serious apprehensions for my safety; but a call from their master, which they obeyed with prompt discipline, put my fears to rest. The man was a negro, mounted on a kind of mat, made of the palm leaf, and generally used for saddles by the plantation slaves on this Island.—When within a few rods of me he dismounted, approached with his drawn sword (machete) and paused in apparent astonishment; I pointing to the sores on me, fearing from his attitude he might mistake me for some highway robber. He now began to address me in Spanish, of which I knew only enough to make him understand I had been shipwrecked; on which he made[Pg 37] signs for me to mount the horse. This I attempted, but was unable to do, until he assisted me. He then pointed in the direction of the path for me to go on, he following the horse, with his sword in his hand.

[G] The Cuba dogs are chiefly descended from the ancient blood hounds, originally imported to hunt down the natives.

After travelling nearly three miles, I discovered a number of lights, about half a mile distant; and when we came up with them we halted near a large bamboo grove, where, with his aid, I dismounted, and by a signal from him, set down until he went to a hut and returned with a shirt and pair of trowsers, with which he covered my nakedness. He now took me by the hand and led me into a large house, occupied by his master, the owner of the plantation. A bench was brought me, on which I seated myself, and the master of the house, a grey headed Spaniard, probably turned of seventy, came toward me with an air of kindness, understanding from the black I had been shipwrecked. As the old man was examining my sores, he discovered on my arm a handsome impression of the Crucifix that had been pricked in with indelible ink, in the East Indies some years before, which he kissed with apparent rapture, saying to me, "Anglois very much of the christian," supposing me to be a Roman Catholic.—This drew around me all the members of the family, who kneeled in succession, kissing the image and manifesting their sensibility by tears, at the sufferings which they perceived by my sores and emaciated appearance, I must have endured. I was then conducted by an old lady, whom I took to be his wife, into another apartment,[Pg 38] in the corner of which, was a kind of grate where a fire was kindled on the ground. Here a table was spread that groaned under all the luxuries which abound on the plantations of this Island; but it was perhaps fortunate for me, that my throat was so raw and inflamed I could swallow nothing but some soft-boiled rice and coffee. After this refreshment, the kind old Spaniard stripped me, dipped a clean linen cloth into pure virgin honey and rubbed it over my sores. He then pointed to the bed, which had been prepared for me in the same room. I gave him to understand, by signs, that I should besmear his clean sheets; but this was negatived by a shake of the head; so without further ceremony I turned in—it was the softest pillow I ever did, or expect to, lay my head on;—yet it was rest, not sleep.

The old man had ordered a servant to attend me during the night, fearing the little food I had taken, after so long an abstinence, might produce some serious illness. Every time I groaned or turned, this servant would run to me with a bowl of strong hot coffee, which I could not refuse without disobeying his master's orders. Early in the morning, before I arose, the old planter came to my bed side, examined my pulse and tongue, and brought me a quart bowl of fresh tamarinds, more than half of which, he compelled me to eat, in order to prepare my stomach for the after reception of food, and prevent those symptoms of inflammation, which his intimate knowledge of the healing art had enabled him to discover.

[Pg 39]I arose, put on my clothes and walked out to survey the possessions of this wealthy old planter, to whose hospitality I had been indebted for my life.

The plantation, or rather villa, called St. Claire, is owned by one family, consisting of about thirty members including the heads, whom I have already described, with their children, grand-children, and an elderly sister who resides with them. These all inhabit one large mansion, recently constructed of the Cedar of Cuba—two stories high, with a roof thatched with palm leaf. Some fifty huts, occupied by the slaves belonging to the plantation, were scattered around the villa.

Nothing can be more beautiful than the coffee plantation. It is an immense square of several hundred acres, enclosed by a lime hedge about five feet thick, with their tops so exactly trimmed as to form a perfect level. This square is intersected by avenues, crossing each other at right angles, of three or four rods wide, ornamented and shaded by orange and other delightful trees. At the head of the largest avenue, on a little spot of rising ground, arose the mansion before mentioned; and at the foot, rather without the square, was the extensive and beautiful bamboo grove where I alighted on my first arrival. The squares formed by the avenues, are filled with coffee trees.

One would hardly think me in a frame of body or mind to enjoy the beauties of nature; but who could behold such a garden as this, diversified with here the orange, adorned with its green luxuriant leaf, and[Pg 40] gracefully bowing under the weight of its golden fruit; and there the palm, the lord of the forest, waving its majestic summit "full a head above the rest," without admiring the richness of its scenery. Beside the coffee; sugar, tobacco, and Indian corn, were cultivated on this plantation.

Without, every thing was life and industry; even the little negro children who could do nothing else, were employed in rolling cigars. Within, indolence and luxury walked hand in hand; yet they were not strangers to hospitality and kindness; for never have I seen a more merciful master than the old planter of St. Claire. Early in the morning, a signal called together the whole multitude of his slaves, who gathered around the mansion, looking into the window, where was placed a full size painting of our Saviour, kneeling, crossing themselves and fileing off in succession, till all had completed the morning's devotion. Every evening a great number of them were collected again, in front of the house, into groupes, some playing on the guitar and other musical instruments; and others dancing merrily, and performing wonderful feats of agility, which were intended no less for their own gratification than the amusement of the family, who never failed to be the joyous spectators of these evening pastimes.

One would have thought my stay in such a delightful place as this, particularly, long enough to have recovered from the effect of my fatigue and wounds, would have been indispensible. A Samaritan kindness was bestowed on me in sickness, and employment offered[Pg 41] me in health. But with all these inducements, there was another source of anxiety than the thoughts of home. Every night we were visited by four men armed so precisely like those fell monsters who had murdered my shipmates and been the cause of all my sufferings, that I could not feel safe in their society.[H]

[H] There were probably Pirates in the neighborhood; for it appears by the papers since, that a piratical schooner captured by the Sea Gull, was fitted out at Villa Clara—a town not very far distant Easterly from St. Claire.

The only person I found on the plantation who could speak English, was a slave, formerly of St. Thomas', who gave me some history of his master's character, immense wealth, the number of new plantations he was yearly forming, &c. Among other things he informed me that his name was (as he pronounced it) Sir Thomas, and that he was an Alcalde, or magistrate, for that part of the Island. This last information was important to me, for it was necessary that I should procure a pass from some civil officer in order to travel in safety to Matanzas.

On the third morning after my arrival, finding myself somewhat recruited by my kind treatment, I desired this slave to go with me to his master, and ask of him a pass to proceed to Matanzas. The Alcalde readily granted my request; and while he was writing the pass, an English Carpenter (who I afterward learned built the Alcalde's house) entered the room, and looking at me, exclaimed, "for God's sake who are you! you appear to be an American or Englishman?" to which I[Pg 42] replied, I am an American. After several questions and answers, I was compelled to tell him my whole story, part of which concerning the Pirates, I had concealed from the inhabitants of St. Claire, from motives of personal safety. But the generous hearted Carpenter, whose sensibility I began to perceive had been a little indebted to some more diffusible stimulant than his native sympathy, burst into tears, exclaiming very rashly and imprudently, "they are a d——d set of Pirates all over the Island." After my pass was finished, its translation by the Carpenter being satisfactory to me, I began to make arrangements to depart, having expressed through him, my gratitude to the Alcalde and his family, for the kind treatment I had received at their hands, which I shall ever review as the mean of preserving my life. But the Carpenter supposing from what I had suffered that I should be unable to perform the journey to Matanzas, endeavored to persuade me to remain, giving me the strongest assurances that I should be both welcome and safe at St. Claire, the owner of which he extolled to the highest degree.—This Carpenter, who had been so recently at work, on some part of the Alcalde's house that he had not yet removed his clothes and tools, finding I rejected his advice, very humanely supplied me with several articles of clothing and four quarters of a dollar in money.

About nine miles on a circuitous road towards Matanzas, was a plantation where he was employed in building a house. Hither he accompanied me, we both riding on one horse; and as it was nearly sun-set[Pg 43] when we arrived, he gave me an invitation to pass the night with him, which I accepted. As we entered the planter's house, I observed three men, armed like Pirates; whose curiosity being rather excited by my appearance, they began to inquire of the Carpenter, who and whence I was? The bold Englishman possessing more frankness and spirit (neither of which had suffered from a parting glass with the Alcalde) than prudence, told them my whole story, concluding with an oath that denounced them all as a gang of Pirates. A quarrel soon ensued, and swords were drawn on both sides; but the Carpenter who was a very stout man, and well armed with pistols as well as sword, with my feeble assistance, soon silenced them, and in less than an hour they left the house. After supper, we retired to rest. The Englishman had once been a soldier, and I had been in the United States' Navy, (where I received a wound that fractured the bone of my right leg) during and ever since the late war, until my trip in the Betsey. We, therefore, like the broken soldier of the Poet,

"Wept o'er our wounds, and talk'd the night away."

After an early breakfast in the morning, as we were preparing to depart, the three armed men, with several others, who called themselves soldiers, rode up to the door and demanded me, saying they had a commission to present me to some officer of Government at Villa Clara, on the ground that some suspicion rested on me. After a short and warm debate between them and the Carpenter, and when they were on the eve of[Pg 44] resorting to arms, he told me to shew them my pass. This enraged them to a great degree, and the Carpenter, with a hearty laugh, enjoying their ire, they muttered over at him a few Spanish oaths, threw my pass on the ground, and left us. Being fitted out with as much provision as I could conveniently carry, I commenced my journey with the Carpenter, who accompanied me armed, to the main road, or rather path, to Matanzas, about six miles; here he presented me with a heavy cane to defend myself with, telling me I should pass but two houses before I came to an inland village, containing twenty or thirty houses and a church, and took an affectionate leave of me.

I had not proceeded far, before I saw, coming out of a wheelright's shed in a field beside the road, a negro and Spaniard, both armed;[I] who coming up, seized me by the collar, and before I could defend myself, wrested the cane from my hand, dragged me out of the path, and commenced stamping on and beating me with the cane, a blow of which over my shoulder, left a scar which I shall bear to my grave. I fell on my knees pointing to my sores; but this rather increased than abated their cruelty; for the Spaniard drew his knife across my face, which I avoided by dodging my head; and just at this moment they heard a drove of mules which probably saved my life; but they did not leave till they had robbed me of the money[Pg 45] present by the Carpenter—my provision and all my clothes, except my shirt and trowsers. Fearing the muleteers might have as little mercy as the others, I crawled on my hands and knees into the bushes, the blood following me, until they had passed, when I arose, and travelled out of the path till I came to a house, which I dared not enter. Toward night I saw another house some distance from the road, which I entered and besought them, by signs, to give me refreshment and lodging; but they pointed to the road with as scornful a look as they would have bestowed on a dog. About a quarter of a mile from this house, I laid down among the bushes and passed the night. The afternoon following, I reached the village named by the Carpenter, where I was kindly treated and presented with a dollar. Toward night I saw a number of houses, one of which I entered, and took some refreshment; but their whispers and sly looks exciting my suspicions, I departed unobserved, and at no great distance, passed another night among the bushes. The next morning I stopped at a large house, where I was refreshed and furnished with provisions for the day, during which I saw two or three travellers, whom I avoided; and the following night I met with a kind reception at another house, where I lodged and took breakfast. This day I met on the road a large man of very respectable appearance, who accosted me in English, and to whom I related my story, and the cruelty with which I had been treated on the road. He read my pass, presented me with four dollars, and directed me[Pg 46] to the habitation of the Alcalde's sister, a large house in the rear of an extensive cane-field, and about a mile from the road where we were. To this house I proceeded, and presented my pass to the old lady, who treated me with the same hospitality I had received from her brother. There was a similar appearance of wealth, though not to the same extent I had noticed at St. Claire; and from the antiquated appearance and number of her massy silver vessels, I could not but infer that the Alcalde was descended from some noble Spanish family. After I had passed two or three hours here, and been furnished with provisions for my journey, I departed; and knowing that I could not be far from Matanzas, I walked leisurely along, admiring those beauties of nature for which my fears had hitherto precluded a relish.

[I] No person thinks of travelling in any part of Cuba unarmed; even the negro wears his machete—and every man of respectability travels with pistols.

Along the narrow winding path there was an endless variety of rich romantic scenery—sometimes I would ascend an elevated piece of ground, where I could view numerous plains as level as the sea, rising here and there in various elevations, teeming with vegetable life, and presenting to the eye a variety of rich colours, separated from each other by irregular and abrupt ridges. Even the wilderness through which I passed, appeared as though the hand of man had been employed to adorn it; for the tall majestic trees that constitute the growth of the Island, were tied together at the tops, by creepers running out from their branches, forming the most graceful festoons, and often peeping over the tops of the trees, as if to exult in their own luxuriance.

[Pg 47]Night, which had now commenced, added grandeur to the beauty of the scene; for the innumerable brilliant lights of the Cuculla,[J] bespangling the fleecy flowers that crowded the forest, appeared like the stars of heaven glowing among the silver clouds of an autumnal evening.

[J] This is a large species of the Fire-fly, frequent in Cuba.—When fully grown, it is nearly an inch long, and has three powerful lights; one on each side of the head, and a third on the abdomen.—The light afforded by two or three of these insects will enable one to read in the darkest night.

How could I repose amid such a scene as this, without contrasting it with that at the Cove; where I had literally made my escape through the blood[K] of my companions, whose mangled carcasses were now perhaps mouldering on the shore.

[K] While escaping from the Pirates at the Cove, as I passed between the canoes, the water was coloured with blood as far as the shore.

The next day at four o'clock, P. M. I came out to Canimar River, about nine miles from Matanzas, where I found a number of American and English coopers, employed in making and repairing sugar hogsheads, &c. Here I passed the night; and the next morning I departed for Matanzas in a Spanish launch. The wind blowing a gale against us, we made but little headway, so that I had a good opportunity to observe and admire the stupendous precipices that compose the banks of this river; some of which on either side, arise perpendicularly to the height of 200 feet, presenting an appearance as though the opposite banks had been burst asunder by some dreadful convulsion. It is extremely deep, about 180 feet wide, and terminates[Pg 48] very abruptly at about eight miles from its mouth, two or three miles below Matanzas. At the head of the Canimar is a small settlement, called the Embarcadero, a kind of thoroughfare to Matanzas for twenty or thirty miles in the interior. I was informed that at this little settlement, nearly two million pounds of coffee and half that quantity of sugar, were annually purchased and sent to Matanzas for a market. Nothing could have prevented the growth of a large city at the head of this river (or rather arm of the sea,) but the bar at its mouth. But even with this obstruction, such is the business between the Embarcadero and Matanzas, that a steam-boat is about running, for their mutual accommodation, shoal enough to pass the bar loaded.

Owing to the violence of the gale, we did not arrive at Matanzas until eight o'clock in the evening. Fearing I might meet with some of the numerous piratical spies that infest that place, who are ever ready to intercept and murder an informant of their diabolical traffic, I remained on board the launch; but had little disposition to sleep among such a crew. The next morning I went to the U. S. Agent, Mr. Adams, who directed me to his partner, Mr. Lattin, our consignee, in order to inform him of the loss of the brig, whose arrival he had been expecting for two or three weeks. In a few moments I met Capt. Holmes of the ship Shamrock, belonging to the owner of the brig, (Hon. Abiel Wood,) who sailed from the same wharf in Wiscasset but a few days before us.

[Pg 49]Capt. Holmes conducted me on board the Shamrock, refreshed me, and had my sores dressed; and with the poultices on my feet, I walked to the Governor's office, in order to give oath to the murder of my shipmates, accompanied by a number of American and British officers, who gave me assurance of their protection. I was asked through an interpreter if I could speak Spanish, to which I replied in the negative.—After relating my story, the Governor enquired of what nation were the Pirates? I answered, Spaniards. He asked how I could affirm that, if I could not speak Spanish. My reply was, "I can tell a Spaniard as far as I can see his evil eye." He bit his lip, shrugged his shoulders, and concluded by observing, "Spaniards have to bear all the piracies."

After the examination, I went on board the Shamrock and passed the night. The next day I spent on shore, and the night following, sailed in the U. S. schooner Ferret, in search of the Pirates and fishermen.

No one who had seen me in health would now have recognized me; for I was reduced to a living skeleton. My head and face were very badly bruised and swollen, from the beating received on my journey—the skin of the latter had peeled entirely off, and I had been nearly blind since leaving the Keys—add to this, the wounds and sores on my feet and legs had degenerated into foul, unhealthy ulcers, that caused them to swell enormously. The American ship masters and seamen who saw me on my first arrival at Matanzas,[Pg 50] have frequently declared, that they had never beheld a human being more disfigured by sufferings, or emaciated by wasting disease. I was soon surrounded by American tars, whose generous hearts were as ready to relieve my present wants, as were their powerful arms, to defend me from future insult or injury.

I now began to perceive how much the mind may be diverted from a consciousness of the sufferings of the body, by its own operations; for I had never been out of reach of the Pirate or robber, from the time I landed on Cruz del Padre until I entered on board the Ferret. My mind was now, therefore, principally occupied by the contemplation of my present sufferings, and their rapid termination in death. I was constantly raising blood, and the inflammation of my numerous sores had produced a sympathetic fever, that compelled me to keep my birth; and the surgeon, for my consolation, expressed an apprehension that he should be compelled to amputate both my legs above the ancles.

The following afternoon we came up to the Reef before the huts, and in attempting to go over it, struck. After some difficulty we went about, but it rained and blew so hard that we stood off from the land during the night. The next morning we went into a passage called Sagua grande, East of the Key, where the Ferret's launch was fitted out for a cruise, a bed placed in her stern sheets, on which I was laid; for, sick as I was, I had a strong desire to meet the inhuman murderers of my shipmates at the tribunal[Pg 51] of my country. But 21 days of fruitless search, during which I could perceive that my general health was wasting away, although the condition of my sores was improving, were sufficient to convince me that if I intended to die among my friends, I had but little time to loose.

The only place where we heard of Pirates, during our cruise, was at a Key, thirty or forty miles Easterly of Cruz del Padre, where we fell in with a man who had been a pilot in the Colombian service. He informed us, that on the morning of that day, about forty Pirates, in three boats, came on shore, robbed him of his little all, consisting of hogs, poultry, &c.—abused his wife and daughters, and set fire to his hut, a part of which we perceived had just been burned. Although it was near night, we started in a direction for them in the launch, manned with fifteen men; but we could hear or see nothing more of them. It was extremely unfortunate, that during the whole of our cruise, the violence of the weather would not permit us to pass the Reef and visit the huts.

After my return to Matanzas, I was carried along side the Sea-Gull; and while in the barge, Manuel, who had numbered me among the murdered of the crew, accidentally approached the side!—A visit from a spectre could not have affected him more than the sight of me. After he had recovered from his surprise, as we had but a few moments to stay, he briefly informed me, that he escaped to the bushes, where he concealed himself until midnight, when he[Pg 52] returned to the Cove, took one of the canoes, and with a paddle ventured off into the ocean, where he was taken up by a Spanish armed brig, carried into Havana, and there lodged in prison. The latter part of his story was corroborated by the commander of the Sea-Gull, who, hearing of his imprisonment, went round to Havana and released him. But I shall ever believe, that he was overtaken by the Pirates and suffered, from national partiality, to escape in the canoe, as he described.

I now went on board the Shamrock to return home, and have reason to thank God, that in addition to his other mercies toward me, I did not attempt a second cruise in the Ferret, with which ill-fated vessel, I might perhaps have perished; for it will be recollected that she was capsized, a few hours out of Matanzas, and, with part of her crew, lost.

On the second day of April, 1825, I arrived at Wiscasset; where, by the advice and aid of my friends, I have published to the world, the simple story of my sufferings, as an appeal to my country, from an humble sailor, who has been honored by fighting her battles, to avenge one of the most unnatural murders that ever darkened the pages of her history.


Transcriber's Note:

This text has been transcribed as typeset, barring one error of "the" duplicated in "peeping over the tops". All spelling and punctuation variations, oddities, and inconsistencies have been retained.

The Biography of a Grizzly

Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent spelling used in the original has been retained.




Author of
The Trail of the Sandhill Stag
Wild Animals I Have Known
Art Anatomy of Animals
Mammals of Manitoba
Birds of Manitoba
Lives of Game Animals
The Gospel of the Redman
The Buffalo Wind

Published by D. Appleton-Century Company, New York

Copyright, 1899, 1900, by
The Century Co.
Copyright, 1900, by
Ernest Seton-Thompson.

Copyright Renewed, 1927
Ernest Thompson Seton

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission of the publisher.

Printed in the U. S. A.

This book is dedicated to the memory of days spent in Wind River Mountains and on the Graybull, where from hunter, miner, and personal experience I gathered many chapters of the History of Wahb.


NEARLY half a century has gone since I lived among these scenes and made my observations on the grand Old Bear of the Mountains.

Many new conditions have in that time developed, have changed the course of history. But the biggest, saddest change of all is that the Grizzly Bear, the most magnificent, dignified, and powerful beast of the wild, heroic West, is gone.

There may be a few individuals about Yellowstone Park or other great havens, but the Grizzly Bear as the wide-wandering monarch of the hills has gone the way of the Dodo.

It is just possible that in this last and latest time a newborn strong and growing sentiment will come to the rescue, will prompt us to seek out and preserve the last remnant, just as long-belated appreciation came at final stance to save for later generations the Great Sequoia Tree, when man's blind avarice had all but wiped it out. Good men are now at work with better thoughts, and reverence for the masterpieces, the giants of creation's world. It may be that this newer thought may come in force and save the grand old Bear while yet it curbs his power for harm. This is my hope and prayer; this is the sentiment unwritten, but expressed, in my Story of the Grizzly.

Ernest Thompson Seton


They all Rushed Under it like a Lot of Little Pigs 14
Like Children Playing "Hands" 18
He Stayed in the Tree till near Morning 32
A Savage Bobcat ... Warned Him to go Back 44
Wahb Yelled and Jerked Back 50
He Struck one Fearful, Crushing Blow 74
Ain't He an Awful Size, Though? 90
Wahb Smashed His Skull 102
Causing the Pool to Overflow 113
He Deliberately Stood up on the Pine Root 142
The Roachback Fled into the Woods 150
He Paused a Moment at the Gate 165


[Pg 11]I

e was born over a score of years ago, away up in the wildest part of the wild West, on the head of the Little Piney, above where the Palette Ranch is now.

His Mother was just an ordinary Silvertip, living the quiet life that all Bears prefer, minding her own business and doing her duty by her family, asking no favors of any one excepting to let her alone.

[Pg 12]

It was July before she took her remarkable family down the Little Piney to the Graybull, and showed them what strawberries were, and where to find them.

Notwithstanding their Mother's deep conviction, the cubs were not remarkably big or bright; yet they were a remarkable family, for there were four of them, and it is not often a Grizzly Mother can boast of more than two.

The woolly-coated little creatures were having a fine time, and reveled in the lovely mountain summer and the abundance of good things. Their Mother turned over each log and flat stone they came to, and the moment it was lifted they all rushed under it like a lot [Pg 15] of little pigs to lick up the ants and grubs there hidden.


It never once occurred to them that Mammy's strength might fail sometime, and let the great rock drop just as they got under it; nor would any one have thought so that might have chanced to see that huge arm and that shoulder sliding about under the great yellow robe she wore. No, no; that arm could never fail. The little ones were quite right. So they hustled and tumbled one another at each fresh log in their haste to be first, and squealed little squeals, and growled little growls, as if each was a pig, a pup, and a kitten all rolled into one.

They were well acquainted with [Pg 16] the common little brown ants that harbor under logs in the uplands, but now they came for the first time on one of the hills of the great, fat, luscious Wood-ant, and they all crowded around to lick up those that ran out. But they soon found that they were licking up more cactus-prickles and sand than ants, till their Mother said in Grizzly, "Let me show you how."

She knocked off the top of the hill, then laid her great paw flat on it for a few moments, and as the angry ants swarmed on to it she licked them up with one lick, and got a good rich mouthful to crunch without a grain of sand or a cactus-stinger in it. The cubs soon learned. Each put up both his little brown paws, so that there was a ring of paws all around the ant-hill, and [Pg 19] there they sat, like children playing "hands," and each licked first the right and then the left paw, or one cuffed his brother's ears for licking a paw that was not his own, till the ant-hill was cleared out and they were ready for a change.


Ants are sour food and made the Bears thirsty, so the old one led down to the river. After they had drunk as much as they wanted, and dabbled their feet, they walked down the bank to a pool, where the old one's keen eye caught sight of a number of Buffalo-fish basking on the bottom. The water was very low, mere pebbly rapids between these deep holes, so Mammy said to the little ones:

"Now you all sit there on the bank and learn something new."

First she went to the lower end [Pg 20] of the pool and stirred up a cloud of mud which hung in the still water, and sent a long tail floating like a curtain over the rapids just below. Then she went quietly round by land, and sprang into the upper end of the pool with all the noise she could. The fish had crowded to that end, but this sudden attack sent them off in a panic, and they dashed blindly into the mud-cloud. Out of fifty fish there is always a good chance of some being fools, and half a dozen of these dashed through the darkened water into the current, and before they knew it they were struggling over the shingly shallow. The old Grizzly jerked them out to the bank, and the little ones rushed [Pg 21] noisily on these funny, short snakes that could not get away, and gobbled and gorged till their little bellies looked like balloons.

They had eaten so much now, and the sun was so hot, that all were quite sleepy. So the Mother-bear led them to a quiet little nook, and as soon as she lay down, though they were puffing with heat, they all snuggled around her and went to sleep, with their little brown paws curled in, and their little black noses tucked into their wool as though it were a very cold day.

After an hour or two they began to yawn and stretch themselves, except little Fuzz, the smallest; she poked out her sharp nose for a moment, then snuggled back between [Pg 22] her Mother's great arms, for she was a gentle, petted little thing. The largest, the one afterward known as Wahb, sprawled over on his back and began to worry a root that stuck up, grumbling to himself as he chewed it, or slapped it with his paw for not staying where he wanted it. Presently Mooney, the mischief, began tugging at Frizzle's ears, and got his own well boxed. They clenched for a tussle; then, locked in a tight, little grizzly yellow ball, they sprawled over and over on the grass, and, before they knew it, down a bank, and away out of sight toward the river.

Almost immediately there was an outcry of yells for help from the [Pg 23] little wrestlers. There could be no mistaking the real terror in their voices. Some dreadful danger was threatening.

Up jumped the gentle Mother, changed into a perfect demon, and over the bank in time to see a huge Range-bull make a deadly charge at what he doubtless took for a yellow dog. In a moment all would have been over with Frizzle, for he had missed his footing on the bank; but there was a thumping of heavy feet, a roar that startled even the great Bull, and, like a huge bounding ball of yellow fur, Mother Grizzly was upon him. Him! the monarch of the herd, the master of all these plains, what had he to fear? He bellowed his deep war-cry, and [Pg 24] charged to pin the old one to the bank; but as he bent to tear her with his shining horns, she dealt him a stunning blow, and before he could recover she was on his shoulders, raking the flesh from his ribs with sweep after sweep of her terrific claws.

The Bull roared with rage, and plunged and reared, dragging Mother Grizzly with him; then, as he hurled heavily off the slope, she let go to save herself, and the Bull rolled down into the river.

This was a lucky thing for him, for the Grizzly did not want to follow him there; so he waded out on the other side, and bellowing with fury and pain, slunk off to join the herd to which he belonged.

[Pg 25]II

ld Colonel Pickett, the cattle king, was out riding the range. The night before, he had seen the new moon descending over the white cone of Pickett's Peak.

"I saw the last moon over Frank's Peak," said he, "and the luck was against me for a month; now I reckon it's my turn."

Next morning his luck began. A letter came from Washington [Pg 26] granting his request that a post-office be established at his ranch, and contained the polite inquiry, "What name do you suggest for the new post-office?"

The Colonel took down his new rifle, a 45–90 repeater. "May as well," he said; "this is my month"; and he rode up the Graybull to see how the cattle were doing.

As he passed under the Rimrock Mountain he heard a far-away roaring as of Bulls fighting, but thought nothing of it till he rounded the point and saw on the flat below a lot of his cattle pawing the dust and bellowing as they always do when they smell the blood of one of their number. He soon saw that the great Bull, "the boss of the bunch," [Pg 27] was covered with blood. His back and sides were torn as by a Mountain-lion, and his head was battered as by another Bull.

"Grizzly," growled the Colonel, for he knew the mountains. He quickly noted the general direction of the Bull's back trail, then rode toward a high bank that offered a view. This was across the gravelly ford of the Graybull, near the mouth of the Piney. His horse splashed through the cold water and began jerkily to climb the other bank.

As soon as the rider's head rose above the bank his hand grabbed the rifle, for there in full sight were five Grizzly Bears, an old one and four cubs.

[Pg 28] "Run for the woods," growled the Mother Grizzly, for she knew that men carried guns. Not that she feared for herself; but the idea of such things among her darlings was too horrible to think of. She set off to guide them to the timber-tangle on the Lower Piney. But an awful, murderous fusillade began.

Bang! and Mother Grizzly felt a deadly pang.

Bang! and poor little Fuzz rolled over with a scream of pain and lay still.

With a roar of hate and fury Mother Grizzly turned to attack the enemy.

Bang! and she fell paralyzed and dying with a high shoulder [Pg 29] shot. And the three little cubs, not knowing what to do, ran back to their Mother.

Bang! bang! and Mooney and Frizzle sank in dying agonies beside her, and Wahb, terrified and stupefied, ran in a circle about them. Then, hardly knowing why, he turned and dashed into the timber-tangle, and disappeared as a last bang left him with a stinging pain and a useless, broken hind paw.

That is why the post-office was called Four-Bears. The Colonel seemed pleased with what he had done; indeed, he told of it himself.

But away up in the woods of Anderson's Peak that night a little [Pg 30] lame Grizzly might have been seen wandering, limping along, leaving a bloody spot each time he tried to set down his hind paw; whining and whimpering, "Mother! Mother! Oh, Mother, where are you?" for he was cold and hungry, and had such a pain in his foot. But there was no Mother to come to him, and he dared not go back where he had left her, so he wandered aimlessly about among the pines.

Then he smelled some strange animal smell and heard heavy footsteps; and not knowing what else to do, he climbed a tree. Presently a band of great, long-necked, slim-legged animals, taller than his Mother, came by under the tree. He [Pg 33] had seen such once before and had not been afraid of them then, because he had been with his Mother. But now he kept very quiet in the tree, and the big creatures stopped picking the grass when they were near him, and blowing their noses, ran out of sight.

He stayed in the tree till near morning, and then he was so stiff with cold that he could scarcely get down. But the warm sun came up, and he felt better as he sought about for berries and ants, for he was very hungry. Then he went back to the Piney and put his wounded foot in the ice-cold water.


He wanted to get back to the mountains again, but still he felt he must go to where he had left his [Pg 34] Mother and brothers. When the afternoon grew warm, he went limping down the stream through the timber, and down on the banks of the Graybull till he came to the place where yesterday they had had the fish-feast; and he eagerly crunched the heads and remains that he found. But there was an odd and horrid smell on the wind. It frightened him, and as he went down to where he last had seen his Mother the smell grew worse. He peeped out cautiously at the place, and saw there a lot of Coyotes, tearing at something. What it was he did not know; but he saw no Mother, and the smell that sickened and terrified him was worse than ever, so he quietly turned back [Pg 35] toward the timber-tangle of the Lower Piney, and nevermore came back to look for his lost family. He wanted his Mother as much as ever, but something told him it was no use.

As cold night came down, he missed her more and more again, and he whimpered as he limped along, a miserable, lonely, little, motherless Bear—not lost in the mountains, for he had no home to seek, but so sick and lonely, and with such a pain in his foot and in his stomach a craving for the drink that would nevermore be his. That night he found a hollow log, and crawling in, he tried to dream that his Mother's great, furry arms were around him, and he snuffled himself to sleep.

[Pg 36]III

ahb had always been a gloomy little Bear; and the string of misfortunes that came on him just as his mind was forming made him more than ever sullen and morose.

It seemed as though every one were against him. He tried to keep out of sight in the upper woods of the Piney, seeking his food by day and resting at night in the hollow log. But one evening he found it occupied by a Porcupine as big as [Pg 37] himself and as bad as a cactus-bush. Wahb could do nothing with him. He had to give up the log and seek another nest.

One day he went down on the Graybull flat to dig some roots that his Mother had taught him were good. But before he had well begun, a grayish-looking animal came out of a hole in the ground and rushed at him, hissing and growling. Wahb did not know it was a Badger, but he saw it was a fierce animal as big as himself. He was sick, and lame too, so he limped away and never stopped till he was on a ridge in the next cañon. Here a Coyote saw him, and came bounding after him, calling at the same time to another to come and join the fun. Wahb was near a tree, so [Pg 38] he scrambled up to the branches. The Coyotes came bounding and yelping below, but their noses told them that this was a young Grizzly they had chased, and they soon decided that a young Grizzly in a tree means a Mother Grizzly not far away, and they had better let him alone.

After they had sneaked off Wahb came down and returned to the Piney. There was better feeding on the Graybull, but every one seemed against him there now that his loving guardian was gone, while on the Piney he had peace at least sometimes, and there were plenty of trees that he could climb when an enemy came.

His broken foot was a long time in healing; indeed, it never got quite [Pg 39] well. The wound healed and the soreness wore off, but it left a stiffness that gave him a slight limp, and the sole-balls grew together quite unlike those of the other foot. It particularly annoyed him when he had to climb a tree or run fast from his enemies; and of them he found no end, though never once did a friend cross his path. When he lost his Mother he lost his best and only friend. She would have taught him much that he had to learn by bitter experience, and would have saved him from most of the ills that befell him in his cubhood—ills so many and so dire that but for his native sturdiness he never could have passed through alive.

The piñons bore plentifully that [Pg 40] year, and the winds began to shower down the ripe, rich nuts. Life was becoming a little easier for Wahb. He was gaining in health and strength, and the creatures he daily met now let him alone. But as he feasted on the piñons one morning after a gale, a great Blackbear came marching down the hill. "No one meets a friend in the woods," was a byword that Wahb had learned already. He swung up the nearest tree. At first the Blackbear was scared, for he smelled the smell of Grizzly; but when he saw it was only a cub, he took courage and came growling at Wahb. He could climb as well as the little Grizzly, or better, and high as Wahb went, the Blackbear followed, [Pg 41] and when Wahb got out on the smallest and highest twig that would carry him, the Blackbear cruelly shook him off, so that he was thrown to the ground, bruised and shaken and half-stunned. He limped away moaning, and the only thing that kept the Blackbear from following him up and perhaps killing him was the fear that the old Grizzly might be about. So Wahb was driven away down the creek from all the good piñon woods.

There was not much food on the Graybull now. The berries were nearly all gone; there were no fish or ants to get, and Wahb, hurt, lonely, and miserable, wandered on and on, till he was away down toward the Meteetsee.

[Pg 42] A Coyote came bounding and barking through the sage-brush after him. Wahb tried to run, but it was no use; the Coyote was soon up with him. Then with a sudden rush of desperate courage Wahb turned and charged his foe. The astonished Coyote gave a scared yowl or two, and fled with his tail between his legs. Thus Wahb learned that war is the price of peace.

But the forage was poor here; there were too many cattle; and Wahb was making for a far-away piñon woods in the Meteetsee Cañon when he saw a man, just like the one he had seen on that day of sorrow. At the same moment he heard a bang, and some [Pg 45] sage-brush rattled and fell just over his back. All the dreadful smells and dangers of that day came back to his memory, and Wahb ran as he never had run before.

He soon got into a gully and followed it into the cañon. An opening between two cliffs seemed to offer shelter, but as he ran toward it a Range-cow came trotting between, shaking her head at him and snorting threats against his life.

He leaped aside upon a long log that led up a bank, but at once a savage Bobcat appeared on the other end and warned him to go back. It was no time to quarrel. Bitterly Wahb felt that the world was full of enemies. But he turned [Pg 46] and scrambled up a rocky bank into the piñon woods that border the benches of the Meteetsee.


The Pine Squirrels seemed to resent his coming, and barked furiously. They were thinking about their piñon-nuts. They knew that this Bear was coming to steal their provisions, and they followed him overhead to scold and abuse him, with such an outcry that an enemy might have followed him by their noise, which was exactly what they intended.

There was no one following, but it made Wahb uneasy and nervous. So he kept on till he reached the timber line, where both food and foes were scarce, and here on the edge of the Mountain-sheep land at last he got a chance to rest.

[Pg 47]IV

ahb never was sweet-tempered like his baby sister, and the persecutions by his numerous foes were making him more and more sour. Why could not they let him alone in his misery? Why was every one against him? If only he had his Mother back! If he could only have killed that Blackbear that had driven him from his woods! It did not occur to him that some day he himself would be [Pg 48] big. And that spiteful Bobcat, that took advantage of him; and the man that had tried to kill him. He did not forget any of them, and he hated them all.

Wahb found his new range fairly good, because it was a good nut year. He learned just what the Squirrels feared he would, for his nose directed him to the little granaries where they had stored up great quantities of nuts for winter's use. It was hard on the Squirrels, but it was good luck for Wahb, for the nuts were delicious food. And when the days shortened and the nights began to be frosty, he had grown fat and well-favored.

He traveled over all parts of the cañon now, living mostly in the [Pg 51] higher woods, but coming down at times to forage almost as far as the river. One night as he wandered by the deep water a peculiar smell reached his nose. It was quite pleasant, so he followed it up to the water's edge. It seemed to come from a sunken log. As he reached over toward this, there was a sudden clank, and one of his paws was caught in a strong, steel Beaver-trap.


Wahb yelled and jerked back with all his strength, and tore up the stake that held the trap. He tried to shake it off, then ran away through the bushes trailing it. He tore at it with his teeth; but there it hung, quiet, cold, strong, and immovable. Every little while he [Pg 52] tore at it with his teeth and claws, or beat it against the ground. He buried it in the earth, then climbed a low tree, hoping to leave it behind; but still it clung, biting into his flesh. He made for his own woods, and sat down to try to puzzle it out. He did not know what it was, but his little green-brown eyes glared with a mixture of pain, fright, and fury as he tried to understand his new enemy.

He lay down under the bushes, and, intent on deliberately crushing the thing, he held it down with one paw while he tightened his teeth on the other end, and bearing down as it slid away, the trap jaws opened and the foot was free. It was mere chance, of course, that led him to [Pg 53] squeeze both springs at once. He did not understand it, but he did not forget it, and he got these not very clear ideas: "There is a dreadful little enemy that hides by the water and waits for one. It has an odd smell. It bites one's paws and is too hard for one to bite. But it can be got off by hard squeezing."

For a week or more the little Grizzly had another sore paw, but it was not very bad if he did not do any climbing.

It was now the season when the Elk were bugling on the mountains. Wahb heard them all night, and once or twice had to climb to get away from one of the big-antlered Bulls. It was also the season when the trappers were coming into the [Pg 54] mountains, and the Wild Geese were honking overhead. There were several quite new smells in the woods, too. Wahb followed one of these up, and it led to a place where were some small logs piled together; then, mixed with the smell that had drawn him, was one that he hated—he remembered it from the time when he had lost his Mother. He sniffed about carefully, for it was not very strong, and learned that this hateful smell was on a log in front, and the sweet smell that made his mouth water was under some brush behind. So he went around, pulled away the brush till he got the prize, a piece of meat, and as he grabbed it, the log in front went down with a heavy chock.

[Pg 55] It made Wahb jump; but he got away all right with the meat and some new ideas, and with one old idea made stronger, and that was, "When that hateful smell is around it always means trouble."

As the weather grew colder, Wahb became very sleepy; he slept all day when it was frosty. He had not any fixed place to sleep in; he knew a number of dry ledges for sunny weather, and one or two sheltered nooks for stormy days. He had a very comfortable nest under a root, and one day, as it began to blow and snow, he crawled into this and curled up to sleep. The storm howled without. The snow fell deeper and deeper. It draped the pine-trees till they bowed, then shook themselves clear to be draped [Pg 56] anew. It drifted over the mountains and poured down the funnel-like ravines, blowing off the peaks and ridges, and filling up the hollows level with their rims. It piled up over Wahb's den, shutting out the cold of the winter, shutting out itself: and Wahb slept and slept.

[Pg 57]V

e slept all winter without waking, for such is the way of Bears, and yet when spring came and aroused him, he knew that he had been asleep a long time. He was not much changed—he had grown in height, and yet was but little thinner. He was now very hungry, and forcing his way through the deep drift that still lay over his den, he set out to look for food.

[Pg 58] There were no piñon-nuts to get, and no berries or ants; but Wahb's nose led him away up the cañon to the body of a winter-killed Elk, where he had a fine feast, and then buried the rest for future use.

Day after day he came back till he had finished it. Food was very scarce for a couple of months, and after the Elk was eaten, Wahb lost all the fat he had when he awoke. One day he climbed over the Divide into the Warhouse Valley. It was warm and sunny there, vegetation was well advanced, and he found good forage. He wandered down toward the thick timber, and soon smelled the smell of another Grizzly. This grew stronger and led him to a single tree by a Bear-trail. Wahb reared up on his hind [Pg 59] feet to smell this tree. It was strong of Bear, and was plastered with mud and Grizzly hair far higher than he could reach; and Wahb knew that it must have been a very large Bear that had rubbed himself there. He felt uneasy. He used to long to meet one of his own kind, yet now that there was a chance of it he was filled with dread.

No one had shown him anything but hatred in his lonely, unprotected life, and he could not tell what this older Bear might do. As he stood in doubt, he caught sight of the old Grizzly himself slouching along a hillside, stopping from time to time to dig up the quamash-roots and wild turnips.

He was a monster. Wahb instinctively [Pg 60] distrusted him, and sneaked away through the woods and up a rocky bluff where he could watch.

Then the big fellow came on Wahb's track and rumbled a deep growl of anger; he followed the trail to the tree, and rearing up, he tore the bark with his claws, far above where Wahb had reached. Then he strode rapidly along Wahb's trail. But the cub had seen enough. He fled back over the Divide into the Meteetsee Cañon, and realized in his dim, bearish way that he was at peace there because the Bear-forage was so poor.

As the summer came on, his coat was shed. His skin got very itchy, and he found pleasure in rolling in the mud and scraping his [Pg 61] back against some convenient tree. He never climbed now: his claws were too long, and his arms, though growing big and strong, were losing that suppleness of wrist that makes cub Grizzlies and all Blackbears great climbers. He now dropped naturally into the Bear habit of seeing how high he could reach with his nose on the rubbing-post, whenever he was near one.

He may not have noticed it, yet each time he came to a post, after a week or two away, he could reach higher, for Wahb was growing fast and coming into his strength.

Sometimes he was at one end of the country that he felt was his, and sometimes at another, but he had frequent use for the rubbing-tree, [Pg 62] and thus it was that his range was mapped out by posts with his own mark on them.

One day late in summer he sighted a stranger on his land, a glossy Blackbear, and he felt furious against the interloper. As the Blackbear came nearer Wahb noticed the tan-red face, the white spot on his breast, and then the bit out of his ear, and last of all the wind brought a whiff. There could be no further doubt it was the very smell: this was the black coward that had chased him down the Piney long ago. But how he had shrunken! Before, he had looked like a giant; now Wahb felt he could crush him with one paw. Revenge is sweet, Wahb felt, though [Pg 63] he did not exactly say it, and he went for that red-nosed Bear. But the Black one went up a small tree like a Squirrel. Wahb tried to follow as the other once followed him, but somehow he could not. He did not seem to know how to take hold now, and after a while he gave it up and went away, although the Blackbear brought him back more than once by coughing in derision. Later on that day, when the Grizzly passed again, the red-nosed one had gone.

As the summer waned, the upper forage-grounds began to give out, and Wahb ventured down to the Lower Meteetsee one night to explore. There was a pleasant odor on the breeze, and following [Pg 64] it up, Wahb came to the carcass of a Steer. A good distance away from it were some tiny Coyotes, mere dwarfs compared with those he remembered. Right by the carcass was another that jumped about in the moonlight in a foolish way. For some strange reason it seemed unable to get away. Wahb's old hatred broke out. He rushed up. In a flash the Coyote bit him several times before, with one blow of that great paw, Wahb smashed him into a limp, furry rag; then broke in all his ribs with a crunch or two of his jaws. Oh, but it was good to feel the hot, bloody juices oozing between his teeth!

The Coyote was caught in a [Pg 65] trap. Wahb hated the smell of the iron, so he went to the other side of the carcass, where it was not so strong, and had eaten but little before clank, and his foot was caught in a Wolf-trap that he had not seen.

But he remembered that he had once before been caught and had escaped by squeezing the trap. He set a hind foot on each spring and pressed till the trap opened and released his paw. About the carcass was the smell that he knew stood for man, so he left it and wandered down-stream; but more and more often he got whiffs of that horrible odor, so he turned and went back to his quiet piñon benches.


[Pg 69]I

ahb's third summer had brought him the stature of a large-sized Bear, though not nearly the bulk and power that in time were his. He was very light-colored now, and this was why Spahwat, a Shoshone Indian who more than once hunted him, called him the Whitebear, or Wahb.

Spahwat was a good hunter, and as soon as he saw the rubbing-tree [Pg 70] on the Upper Meteetsee he knew that he was on the range of a big Grizzly. He bushwhacked the whole valley, and spent many days before he found a chance to shoot; then Wahb got a stinging flesh-wound in the shoulder. He growled horribly, but it had seemed to take the fight out of him; he scrambled up the valley and over the lower hills till he reached a quiet haunt, where he lay down.

His knowledge of healing was wholly instinctive. He licked the wound and all around it, and sought to be quiet. The licking removed the dirt, and by massage reduced the inflammation, and it plastered the hair down as a sort of dressing over the wound to keep out the [Pg 71] air, dirt, and microbes. There could be no better treatment.


But the Indian was on his trail. Before long the smell warned Wahb that a foe was coming, so he quietly climbed farther up the mountain to another resting-place. But again he sensed the Indian's approach, and made off. Several times this happened, and at length there was a second shot and another galling wound. Wahb was furious now. There was nothing that really frightened him but that horrible odor of man, iron, and guns, that he remembered from the day when he lost his Mother; but now all fear of these left him. He heaved painfully up the mountain again, and along under a six-foot [Pg 72] ledge, then up and back to the top of the bank, where he lay flat. On came the Indian, armed with knife and gun; deftly, swiftly keeping on the trail; gloating joyfully over each bloody print that meant such anguish to the hunted Bear. Straight up the slide of broken rock he came, where Wahb, ferocious with pain, was waiting on the ledge. On sneaked the dogged hunter; his eye still scanned the bloody slots or swept the woods ahead, but never was raised to glance above the ledge. And Wahb, as he saw this shape of Death relentless on his track, and smelled the hated smell, poised his bulk at heavy cost upon his quivering, mangled arm, there held until the proper [Pg 75] instant came, then to his sound arm's matchless native force he added all the weight of desperate hate as down he struck one fearful, crushing blow. The Indian sank without a cry, and then dropped out of sight. Wahb rose, and sought again a quiet nook where he might nurse his wounds. Thus he learned that one must fight for peace; for he never saw that Indian again, and he had time to rest and recover.

[Pg 76]II

he years went on as before, except that each winter Wahb slept less soundly, and each spring he came out earlier and was a bigger Grizzly, with fewer enemies that dared to face him. When his sixth year came he was a very big, strong, sullen Bear, with neither friendship nor love in his life since that evil day on the Lower Piney.

No one ever heard of Wahb's [Pg 77] mate. No one believes that he ever had one. The love-season of Bears came and went year after year, but left him alone in his prime as he had been in his youth. It is not good for a Bear to be alone; it is bad for him in every way. His habitual moroseness grew with his strength, and any one chancing to meet him now would have called him a dangerous Grizzly.

He had lived in the Meteetsee Valley since first he betook himself there, and his character had been shaped by many little adventures with traps and his wild rivals of the mountains. But there was none of the latter that he now feared and he knew enough to avoid the first, for that penetrating odor of [Pg 78] man and iron was a never-failing warning, especially after an experience which befell him in his sixth year.

His ever-reliable nose told him that there was a dead Elk down among the timber.

He went up the wind, and there, sure enough, was the great delicious carcass, already torn open at the very best place. True, there was that terrible man-and-iron taint, but it was so slight and the feast so tempting that after circling around and inspecting the carcass from his eight feet of stature, as he stood erect, he went cautiously forward, and at once was caught by his left paw in an enormous Bear-trap. He roared with pain and [Pg 79] slashed about in a fury. But this was no Beaver-trap; it was a big forty-pound Bear-catcher, and he was surely caught.

Wahb fairly foamed with rage, and madly grit his teeth upon the trap. Then he remembered his former experiences. He placed the trap between his hind legs, with a hind paw on each spring, and pressed down with all his weight. But it was not enough. He dragged off the trap and its clog, and went clanking up the mountain. Again and again he tried to free his foot, but in vain, till he came where a great trunk crossed the trail a few feet from the ground. By chance, or happy thought, he reared again under this and made a new attempt. [Pg 80] With a hind foot on each spring and his mighty shoulders underneath the tree, he bore down with his titanic strength: the great steel springs gave way, the jaws relaxed, and he tore out his foot. So Wahb was free again, though he left behind a great toe which had been nearly severed by the first snap of the steel.

Again Wahb had a painful wound to nurse, and as he was a left-handed Bear,—that is, when he wished to turn a rock over he stood on the right paw and turned with the left,—one result of this disablement was to rob him for a time of all those dainty foods that are found under rocks or logs. The wound healed at last, but he never [Pg 81] forgot that experience, and thenceforth the pungent smell of man and iron, even without the gun smell, never failed to enrage him.

Many experiences had taught him that it is better to run if he only smelled the hunter or heard him far away, but to fight desperately if the man was close at hand. And the cow-boys soon came to know that the Upper Meteetsee was the range of a Bear that was better let alone.

[Pg 82]III

ne day after a long absence Wahb came into the lower part of his range, and saw to his surprise one of the wooden dens that men make for themselves. As he came around to get the wind, he sensed the taint that never failed to infuriate him now, and a moment later he heard a loud bang and felt a stinging shock in his left hind leg, the old stiff leg. He wheeled about, in time to see a man running toward the new-made [Pg 83] shanty. Had the shot been in his shoulder Wahb would have been helpless, but it was not.

Mighty arms that could toss pine logs like broomsticks, paws that with one tap could crush the biggest Bull upon the range, claws that could tear huge slabs of rock from the mountain-side—what was even the deadly rifle to them!

When the man's partner came home that night he found him on the reddened shanty floor. The bloody trail from outside and a shaky, scribbled note on the back of a paper novel told the tale.

It was Wahb done it. I seen him by the spring and wounded him. I tried to git on the shanty, but he ketched me. My God, how I suffer!


[Pg 84] It was all fair. The man had invaded the Bear's country, had tried to take the Bear's life, and had lost his own. But Jack's partner swore he would kill that Bear.

He took up the trail and followed it up the cañon, and there bushwhacked and hunted day after day. He put out baits and traps, and at length one day he heard a crash, clatter, thump, and a huge rock bounded down a bank into a wood, scaring out a couple of deer that floated away like thistle-down. Miller thought at first that it was a land-slide; but he soon knew that it was Wahb that had rolled the boulder over merely for the sake of two or three ants beneath it.

The wind had not betrayed him, [Pg 85] so on peering through the bush Miller saw the great Bear as he fed, favoring his left hind leg and growling sullenly to himself at a fresh twinge of pain. Miller steadied himself, and thought, "Here goes a finisher or a dead miss." He gave a sharp whistle, the Bear stopped every move, and, as he stood with ears acock, the man fired at his head.

But at that moment the great shaggy head moved, only an infuriating scratch was given, the smoke betrayed the man's place, and the Grizzly made savage, three-legged haste to catch his foe.

Miller dropped his gun and swung lightly into a tree, the only large one near. Wahb raged in [Pg 86] vain against the trunk. He tore off the bark with his teeth and claws; but Miller was safe beyond his reach. For fully four hours the Grizzly watched, then gave it up, and slowly went off into the bushes till lost to view. Miller watched him from the tree, and afterward waited nearly an hour to be sure that the Bear was gone. He then slipped to the ground, got his gun, and set out for camp. But Wahb was cunning; he had only seemed to go away, and then had sneaked back quietly to watch. As soon as the man was away from the tree, too far to return, Wahb dashed after him. In spite of his wounds the Bear could move the faster. Within a quarter of a mile—well, [Pg 87] Wahb did just what the man had sworn to do to him.

Long afterward his friends found the gun and enough to tell the tale.

The claim-shanty on the Meteetsee fell to pieces. It never again was used, for no man cared to enter a country that had but few allurements to offset its evident curse of ill luck, and where such a terrible Grizzly was always on the war-path.

[Pg 88]IV

hen they found good gold on the Upper Meteetsee. Miners came in pairs and wandered through the peaks, rooting up the ground and spoiling the little streams—grizzly old men mostly, that had lived their lives in the mountain and were themselves slowly turning into Grizzly Bears; digging and grubbing everywhere, not for good, wholesome roots, but [Pg 91] for that shiny yellow sand that they could not eat; living the lives of Grizzlies, asking nothing but to be let alone to dig.

They seemed to understand Grizzly Wahb. The first time they met, Wahb reared up on his hind legs, and the wicked green lightnings began to twinkle in his small eyes. The elder man said to his mate:

"Let him alone, and he won't bother you."

"Ain't he an awful size, though?" replied the other, nervously.


Wahb was about to charge, but something held him back—a something that had no reference to his senses, that was felt only when they were still; a something that [Pg 92] in Bear and Man is wiser than his wisdom, and that points the way at every doubtful fork in the dim and winding trail.

Of course Wahb did not understand what the men said, but he did feel that there was something different here. The smell of man and iron was there, but not of that maddening kind, and he missed the pungent odor that even yet brought back the dark days of his cubhood.

The men did not move, so Wahb rumbled a subterranean growl, dropped down on his four feet, and went on.

Late the same year Wahb ran across the red-nosed Blackbear. How that Bear did keep on shrinking! [Pg 93] Wahb could have hurled him across the Graybull with one tap now.

But the Blackbear did not mean to let him try. He hustled his fat, podgy body up a tree at a rate that made him puff. Wahb reached up nine feet from the ground, and with one rake of his huge claws tore off the bark clear to the shining white wood and down nearly to the ground; and the Blackbear shivered and whimpered with terror as the scraping of those awful claws ran up the trunk and up his spine in a way that was horribly suggestive.

What was it that the sight of that Blackbear stirred in Wahb? Was it memories of the Upper [Pg 94] Piney, long forgotten; thoughts of a woodland rich in food?

Wahb left him trembling up there as high as he could get, and without any very clear purpose swung along the upper benches of the Meteetsee down to the Graybull, around the foot of the Rimrock Mountain; on, till hours later he found himself in the timber-tangle of the Lower Piney, and among the berries and ants of the old times.

He had forgotten what a fine land the Piney was: plenty of food, no miners to spoil the streams, no hunters to keep an eye on, and no mosquitoes or flies, but plenty of open, sunny glades and sheltering woods, backed up by high, straight cliffs to turn the colder winds.

[Pg 95] There were, moreover, no resident Grizzlies, no signs even of passing travelers, and the Blackbears that were in possession did not count.

Wahb was well pleased. He rolled his vast bulk in an old Buffalo-wallow, and rearing up against a tree where the Piney Cañon quits the Graybull Cañon, he left on it his mark fully eight feet from the ground.

In the days that followed he wandered farther and farther up among the rugged spurs of the Shoshones, and took possession as he went. He found the sign-boards of several Blackbears, and if they were small dead trees he sent them crashing to earth with a drive of his giant paw. If they [Pg 96] were green, he put his own mark over the other mark, and made it clearer by slashing the bark with the great pickaxes that grew on his toes.

The Upper Piney had so long been a Blackbear range that the Squirrels had ceased storing their harvest in hollow trees, and were now using the spaces under flat rocks, where the Blackbears could not get at them; so Wahb found this a land of plenty: every fourth or fifth rock in the pine woods was the roof of a Squirrel or Chipmunk granary, and when he turned it over, if the little owner were there, Wahb did not scruple to flatten him with his paw and devour him as an agreeable relish to his own provisions.

[Pg 97] And wherever Wahb went he put up his sign-board:

Trespassers beware!

It was written on the trees as high up as he could reach, and every one that came by understood that the scent of it and the hair in it were those of the great Grizzly Wahb.

If his Mother had lived to train him, Wahb would have known that a good range in spring may be a bad one in summer. Wahb found out by years of experience that a total change with the seasons is best. In the early spring the Cattle and Elk ranges, with their winter-killed carcasses, offer a bountiful feast. In early summer the best forage is on the warm hillsides [Pg 98] where the quamash and the Indian turnip grow. In late summer the berry-bushes along the river-flat are laden with fruit, and in autumn the pine woods gave good chances to fatten for the winter. So he added to his range each year. He not only cleared out the Blackbears from the Piney and the Meteetsee, but he went over the Divide and killed that old fellow that had once chased him out of the Warhouse Valley. And, more than that, he held what he had won, for he broke up a camp of tenderfeet that were looking for a ranch location on the Middle Meteetsee; he stampeded their horses, and made general smash of the camp. And so all the animals, including [Pg 99] man, came to know that the whole range from Frank's Peak to the Shoshone spurs was the proper domain of a king well able to defend it, and the name of that king was Meteetsee Wahb.

Any creature whose strength puts him beyond danger of open attack is apt to lose in cunning. Yet Wahb never forgot his early experience with the traps. He made it a rule never to go near that smell of man and iron, and that was the reason that he never again was caught.

So he led his lonely life and slouched around on the mountains, throwing boulders about like pebbles, and huge trunks like matchwood, as he sought for his daily [Pg 100] food. And every beast of hill and plain soon came to know and fly in fear of Wahb, the one time hunted, persecuted Cub. And more than one Blackbear paid with his life for the ill-deed of that other, long ago. And many a cranky Bobcat flying before him took to a tree, and if that tree were dead and dry, Wahb heaved it down, and tree and Cat alike were dashed to bits. Even the proud-necked Stallion, leader of the mustang band, thought well for once to yield the road. The great, grey Timberwolves, and the Mountain Lions too, left their new kill and sneaked in sullen fear aside when Wahb appeared. And if, as he hulked across the sage-covered river-flat sending the scared Antelope [Pg 103] skimming like birds before him, he was faced perchance, by some burly Range-bull, too young to be wise and too big to be afraid, Wahb smashed his skull with one blow of that giant paw, and served him as the Range-cow would have served himself long years ago.


The All-mother never fails to offer to her own, twin cups, one gall, and one of balm. Little or much they may drink, but equally of each. The mountain that is easy to descend must soon be climbed again. The grinding hardship of Wahb's early days had built his mighty frame. All usual pleasures of a grizzly's life had been denied him but power bestowed in more than double share.

[Pg 104] So he lived on year after year, unsoftened by mate or companion, sullen, fearing nothing, ready to fight, but asking only to be let alone—quite alone. He had but one keen pleasure in his sombre life—the lasting glory in his matchless strength—the small but never failing thrill of joy as the foe fell crushed and limp, or the riven boulders grit and heaved when he turned on them the measure of his wondrous force.

[Pg 105]V

verything has a smell of its own for those that have noses to smell. Wahb had been learning smells all his life, and knew the meaning of most of those in the mountains. It was as though each and every thing had a voice of its own for him; and yet it was far better than a voice, for every one knows that a good nose is better than eyes and ears together. And [Pg 106] each of these myriads of voices kept on crying, "Here and such am I."

The juniper-berries, the rosehips, the strawberries, each had a soft, sweet little voice, calling, "Here we are—Berries, Berries."

The great pine woods had a loud, far-reaching voice, "Here are we, the Pine-trees," but when he got right up to them Wahb could hear the low, sweet call of the piñon-nuts, "Here are we, the Piñon-nuts."

And the quamash beds in May sang a perfect chorus when the wind was right: "Quamash beds, Quamash beds."

And when he got among them he made out each single voice. [Pg 107] Each root had its own little piece to say to his nose: "Here am I, a big Quamash, rich and ripe," or a tiny, sharp voice, "Here am I, a good-for-nothing, stringy little root."

And the broad, rich russulas in the autumn called aloud, "I am a fat, wholesome Mushroom," and the deadly amanita cried, "I am an Amanita. Let me alone, or you'll be a sick Bear." And the fairy harebell of the cañon-banks sang a song too, as fine as its thread-like stem, and as soft as its dainty blue; but the warden of the smells had learned to report it not, for this, and a million other such, were of no interest to Wahb.

So every living thing that moved, [Pg 108] and every flower that grew, and every rock and stone and shape on earth told out its tale and sang its little story to his nose. Day or night, fog or bright, that great, moist nose told him most of the things he needed to know, or passed unnoticed those of no concern, and he depended on it more and more. If his eyes and ears together reported so and so, he would not even then believe it until his nose said, "Yes; that is right."

But this is something that man cannot understand, for he has sold the birthright of his nose for the privilege of living in towns.

While hundreds of smells were agreeable to Wahb, thousands were indifferent to him, a good [Pg 109] many were unpleasant, and some actually put him in a rage.

He had often noticed that if a west wind were blowing when he was at the head of the Piney Cañon there was an odd, new scent. Some days he did not mind it, and some days it disgusted him; but he never followed it up. On other days a north wind from the high Divide brought a most awful smell, something unlike any other, a smell that he wanted only to get away from.

Wahb was getting well past his youth now, and he began to have pains in the hind leg that had been wounded so often. After a cold night or a long time of wet weather [Pg 110] he could scarcely use that leg, and one day, while thus crippled, the west wind came down the cañon with an odd message to his nose. Wahb could not clearly read the message, but it seemed to say, "Come," and something within him said, "Go." The smell of food will draw a hungry creature and disgust a gorged one. We do not know why, and all that any one can learn is that the desire springs from a need of the body. So Wahb felt drawn by what had long disgusted him, and he slouched up the mountain path, grumbling to himself and slapping savagely back at branches that chanced to switch his face.

The odd odor grew very strong; it led him where he had never been [Pg 111] before—up a bank of whitish sand to a bench of the same color, where there was unhealthy-looking water running down, and a kind of fog coming out of a hole. Wahb threw up his nose suspiciously—such a peculiar smell! He climbed the bench.

A snake wriggled across the sand in front. Wahb crushed it with a blow that made the near trees shiver and sent a balanced boulder toppling down, and he growled a growl that rumbled up the valley like distant thunder. Then he came to the foggy hole. It was full of water that moved gently and steamed. Wahb put in his foot, and found it was quite warm and that it felt pleasantly on [Pg 112] his skin. He put in both feet, and little by little went in farther, causing the pool to overflow on all sides, till he was lying at full length in the warm, almost hot, sulphur-spring, and sweltering in the greenish water, while the wind drifted the steam about overhead.


There are plenty of these sulphur-springs in the Rockies, but this chanced to be the only one on Wahb's range. He lay in it for over an hour; then, feeling that he had had enough, he heaved his huge bulk up on the bank, and realized that he was feeling remarkably well and supple. The stiffness of his hind leg was gone.

He shook the water from his shaggy coat. A broad ledge in full [Pg 115] sun-heat invited him to stretch himself out and dry. But first he reared against the nearest tree and left a mark that none could mistake. True, there were plenty of signs of other animals using the sulphur-bath for their ills; but what of it? Thenceforth that tree bore this inscription, in a language of mud, hair, and smell, that every mountain creature could read:

My bath. Keep away!

(Signed) WAHB

Wahb lay on his belly till his back was dry, then turned on his broad back and squirmed about in a ponderous way till the broiling sun had wholly dried him. He [Pg 116] realized that he was really feeling very well now. He did not say to himself, "I am troubled with that unpleasant disease called rheumatism, and sulphur-bath treatment is the thing to cure it." But what he did know was, "I have dreadful pains; I feel better when I am in this stinking pool." So thenceforth he came back whenever the pains began again, and each time he was cured.


[Pg 121]I

ears went by. Wahb grew no bigger,—there was no need for that,—but he got whiter, crosser, and more dangerous. He really had an enormous range now. Each spring, after the winter storms had removed his notice-boards, he went around and renewed them. It was natural to do so, for, first of all, the scarcity of food compelled him to travel all over the range. [Pg 122] There were lots of clay wallows at that season, and the itching of his skin, as the winter coat began to shed, made the dressing of cool, wet clay very pleasant, and the exquisite pain of a good scratching was one of the finest pleasures he knew. So, whatever his motive, the result was the same: the signs were renewed each spring.

At length the Palette Ranch outfit appeared on the Lower Piney, and the men got acquainted with the "ugly old fellow." The Cow-punchers, when they saw him, decided they "hadn't lost any Bears and they had better keep out of his way and let him mind his business."

They did not often see him, although his tracks and sign-boards [Pg 123] were everywhere. But the owner of this outfit, a born hunter, took a keen interest in Wahb. He learned something of the old Bear's history from Colonel Pickett, and found out for himself more than the colonel ever knew.

He learned that Wahb ranged as far south as the Upper Wiggins Fork and north to the Stinking Water, and from the Meteetsee to the Shoshones.

He found that Wahb knew more about Bear-traps than most trappers do; that he either passed them by or tore open the other end of the bait-pen and dragged out the bait without going near the trap, and by accident or design Wahb sometimes sprang the trap with one of [Pg 124] the logs that formed the pen. This ranch-owner found also that Wahb disappeared from his range each year during the heat of the summer, as completely as he did each winter during his sleep.

[Pg 125]II

any years ago a wise government set aside the head waters of the Yellowstone to be a sanctuary of wildlife forever. In the limits of this great Wonderland the ideal of the Royal Singer was to be realized, and none were to harm or make afraid. No violence was to be offered to any bird or beast, no ax was to be carried into its primitive forests, and the streams were [Pg 126] to flow on forever unpolluted by mill or mine. All things were to bear witness that such as this was the West before the white man came.

The wild animals quickly found out all this. They soon learned the boundaries of this unfenced Park, and, as every one knows, they show a different nature within its sacred limits. They no longer shun the face of man, they neither fear nor attack him, and they are even more tolerant of one another in this land of refuge.

Peace and plenty are the sum of earthly good; so, finding them here, the wild creatures crowd into the Park from the surrounding country in numbers not elsewhere to be seen.

[Pg 127] The Bears are especially numerous about the Fountain Hotel. In the woods, a quarter of a mile away, is a smooth open place where the steward of the hotel has all the broken and waste food put out daily for the Bears, and the man whose work it is has become the Steward of the Bears' Banquet. Each day it is spread, and each year there are more Bears to partake of it. It is a common thing now to see a dozen Bears feasting there at one time. They are of all kinds—Black, Brown, Cinnamon, Grizzly, Silvertip, Roachbacks, big and small, families and rangers, from all parts of the vast surrounding country. All seem to realize that in the Park no violence is allowed, and the most ferocious [Pg 128] of them have here put on a new behavior. Although scores of Bears roam about this choice resort, and sometimes quarrel among themselves, not one of them has ever yet harmed a man.

Year after year they have come and gone. The passing travellers see them. The men of the hotel know many of them well. They know that they show up each summer during the short season when the hotel is in use, and that they disappear again, no man knowing whence they come or whither they go.

One day the owner of the Palette Ranch came through the Park. During his stay at the Fountain Hotel, he went to the Bear Banquet [Pg 129] Hall at high meal-tide. There were several Blackbears feasting, but they made way for a huge Silvertip Grizzly that came about sundown.

"That," said the man who was acting as guide, "is the biggest Grizzly in the Park; but he is a peaceable sort, or Lud knows what'd happen."

"That!" said the ranchman, in astonishment, as the Grizzly came hulking nearer, and loomed up like a load of hay among the piney pillars of the Banquet Hall. "That! If that is not Meteetsee Wahb, I never saw a Bear in my life! Why, that is the worst Grizzly that ever rolled a log in the Big Horn Basin."

[Pg 130] "It ain't possible," said the other, "for he's here every summer, July and August, an' I reckon he don't live so far away."

"Well, that settles it," said the ranchman; "July and August is just the time we miss him on the range; and you can see for yourself that he is a little lame behind and has lost a claw of his left front foot. Now I know where he puts in his summers; but I did not suppose that the old reprobate would know enough to behave himself away from home."

The big Grizzly became very well known during the successive hotel seasons. Once only did he really behave ill, and that was the first season he appeared, before [Pg 131] he fully knew the ways of the Park.

He wandered over to the hotel, one day, and in at the front door. In the hall he reared up his eight feet of stature as the guests fled in terror; then he went into the clerk's office. The man said: "All right; if you need this office more than I do, you can have it," and leaping over the counter, locked himself in the telegraph-office to wire the superintendent of the Park: "Old Grizzly in the office now, seems to want to run hotel; may we shoot?"

The reply came: "No shooting allowed in Park; use the hose." Which they did, and, wholly taken by surprise, the Bear leaped over [Pg 132] the counter too, and ambled out the back way, with a heavy thud-thudding of his feet, and a rattling of his claws on the floor. He passed through the kitchen as he went, and, picking up a quarter of beef, took it along.

This was the only time he was known to do ill, though on one occasion he was led into a breach of the peace by another Bear. This was a large she-Blackbear and a noted mischief-maker. She had a wretched, sickly cub that she was very proud of—so proud that she went out of her way to seek trouble on his behalf. And he, like all spoiled children, was the cause of much bad feeling. She was so big and fierce that she [Pg 133] could bully all the other Blackbears, but when she tried to drive off old Wahb she received a pat from his paw that sent her tumbling like a football. He followed her up, and would have killed her, for she had broken the peace of the Park, but she escaped by climbing a tree, from the top of which her miserable little cub was apprehensively squealing at the pitch of his voice. So the affair was ended; in future the Blackbear kept out of Wahb's way, and he won the reputation of being a peaceable, well-behaved Bear. Most persons believed that he came from some remote mountains where were neither guns nor traps to make him sullen and revengeful.

[Pg 134]III

very one knows that a Bitter-root Grizzly is a bad Bear. The Bitter-root Range is the roughest part of the mountains. The ground is everywhere cut up with deep ravines and overgrown with dense and tangled underbrush.

It is an impossible country for horses, and difficult for gunners, and there is any amount of good [Pg 135] Bear-pasture. So there are plenty of Bears and plenty of trappers.

The Roachbacks, as the Bitter-root Grizzlies are called, are a cunning and desperate race. An old Roachback knows more about traps than half a dozen ordinary trappers; he knows more about plants and roots than a whole college of botanists. He can tell to a certainty just when and where to find each kind of grub and worm, and he knows by a whiff whether the hunter on his trail a mile away is working with guns, poison, dogs, traps, or all of them together. And he has one general rule, which is an endless puzzle to the hunter: "Whatever you decide to do, do it quickly and follow it right up." So [Pg 136] when a trapper and a Roachback meet, the Bear at once makes up his mind to run away as hard as he can, or to rush at the man and fight to a finish.

The Grizzlies of the Bad Lands did not do this: they used to stand on their dignity and growl like a thunder-storm, and so gave the hunters a chance to play their deadly lightning; and lightning is worse than thunder any day. Men can get used to growls that rumble along the ground and up one's legs to the little house where one's courage lives; but Bears cannot get used to 45–90 soft-nosed bullets, and that is why the Grizzlies of the Bad Lands were all killed off.

[Pg 137] So the hunters have learned that they never know what a Roachback will do; but they do know that he is going to be quick about it.

Altogether these Bitter-root Grizzlies have solved very well the problem of life, in spite of white men, and are therefore increasing in their own wild mountains.

Of course a range will hold only so many Bears, and the increase is crowded out; so that when that slim young Bald-faced Roachback found he could not hold the range he wanted, he went out perforce to seek his fortune in the world.

He was not a big Bear, or he would not have been crowded out; [Pg 138] but he had been trained in a good school, so that he was cunning enough to get on very well elsewhere. How he wandered down to the Salmon River Mountains and did not like them; how he traveled till he got among the barbwire fences of the Snake Plains and of course could not stay there; how a mere chance turned him from going eastward to the Park, where he might have rested; how he made for the Snake River Mountains and found more hunters than berries; how he crossed into the Tetons and looked down with disgust on the teeming man colony of Jackson's Hole, does not belong to this history of Wahb. But when Baldy Roachback crossed the Gros [Pg 139] Ventre Range and over the Wind River Divide to the head of the Graybull, he does come into the story, just as he did into the country and the life of the Meteetsee Grizzly.

The Roachback had not found a man-sign since he left Jackson's Hole, and here he was in a land of plenty of food. He feasted on all the delicacies of the season, and enjoyed the easy, brushless country till he came on one of Wahb's sign-posts.

"Trespassers beware!" it said in the plainest manner. The Roachback reared up against it.

"Thunder! what a Bear!" The nose-mark was a head and neck above Baldy's highest reach. Now, [Pg 140] a simple Bear would have gone quietly away after this discovery; but Baldy felt that the mountains owed him a living, and here was a good one if he could keep out of the way of the big fellow. He nosed about the place, kept a sharp lookout for the present owner, and went on feeding wherever he ran across a good thing.

A step or two from this ominous tree was an old pine stump. In the Bitter-roots there are often mice-nests under such stumps, and Baldy jerked it over to see. There was nothing. The stump rolled over against the sign-post. Baldy had not yet made up his mind about it; but a new notion came into his cunning brain. He turned [Pg 143] his head on this side, then on that. He looked at the stump, then at the sign, with his little pig-like eyes. Then he deliberately stood up on the pine root, with his back to the tree, and put his mark away up, a head at least above that of Wahb. He rubbed his back long and hard, and he sought some mud to smear his head and shoulders, then came back and made the mark so big, so strong, and so high, and emphasized it with such claw-gashes in the bark, that it could be read only in one way—a challenge to the present claimant from some monstrous invader, who was ready, nay anxious, to fight to a finish for this desirable range.


Maybe it was accident and maybe [Pg 144] design, but when the Roachback jumped from the root it rolled to one side. Baldy went on down the cañon, keeping the keenest lookout for his enemy.

It was not long before Wahb found the trail of the interloper, and all the ferocity of his outside-the-Park nature was aroused.

He followed the trail for miles on more than one occasion. But the small Bear was quick-footed as well as quick-witted, and never showed himself. He made a point, however, of calling at each sign-post, and if there was any means of cheating, so that his mark might be put higher, he did it with a vim, and left a big, showy record. But if there was no chance for any but [Pg 145] a fair register, he would not go near the tree, but looked for a fresh tree near by with some log or side-ledge to reach from.

Thus Wahb soon found the interloper's marks towering far above his own—a monstrous Bear evidently, that even he could not be sure of mastering. But Wahb was no coward. He was ready to fight to a finish anyone that might come; and he hunted the range for that invader. Day after day Wahb sought for him and held himself ready to fight. He found his trail daily, and more and more often he found that towering record far above his own. He often smelled him on the wind; but he never saw him, for the old Grizzly's eyes had [Pg 146] grown very dim of late years; things but a little way off were mere blurs to him. The continual menace could not but fill Wahb with uneasiness, for he was not young now, and his teeth and claws were worn and blunted. He was more than ever troubled with pains in his old wounds, and though he could have risen on the spur of the moment to fight any number of Grizzlies of any size, still the continual apprehension, the knowledge that he must hold himself ready at any moment to fight this young monster, weighed on his spirits and began to tell on his general health.

[Pg 147]IV

he Roachback's life was one of continual vigilance, always ready to run, doubling and shifting to avoid the encounter that must mean instant death to him. Many a time from some hiding-place he watched the great Bear, and trembled lest the wind should betray him. Several times his very impudence saved him, and more than once he was nearly cornered in a box-cañon. [Pg 148] Once he escaped only by climbing up a long crack in a cliff, which Wahb's huge frame could not have entered. But still, in a mad persistence, he kept on marking the trees farther into the range.

At last he scented and followed up the sulphur-bath. He did not understand it at all. It had no appeal to him, but hereabouts were the tracks of the owner. In a spirit of mischief the Roachback scratched dirt into the spring, and then seeing the rubbing-tree, he stood sidewise on the rocky ledge, and was thus able to put his mark fully five feet above that of Wahb. Then he nervously jumped down, and was running about, defiling the bath and keeping a sharp lookout, [Pg 151] when he heard a noise in the woods below. Instantly he was all alert. The sound drew near, then the wind brought the sure proof, and the Roachback, in terror, turned and fled into the woods.


It was Wahb. He had been failing in health of late; his old pains were on him again, and, as well as his hind leg, had seized his right shoulder, where were still lodged two rifle-balls. He was feeling very ill, and crippled with pain. He came up the familiar bank at a jerky limp, and there caught the odor of the foe; then he saw the track in the mud—his eyes said the track of a small Bear, but his eyes were dim now, and his nose, his unerring nose, said, [Pg 152] "This is the track of the huge invader." Then he noticed the tree with his sign on it, and there beyond doubt was the stranger's mark far above his own. His eyes and nose were agreed on this; and more, they told him that the foe was close at hand, might at any moment come.

Wahb was feeling ill and weak with pain. He was in no mood for a desperate fight. A battle against such odds would be madness now. So, without taking the treatment, he turned and swung along the bench away from the direction taken by the stranger—the first time since his cubhood that he had declined to fight.

That was a turning-point in [Pg 153] Wahb's life. If he had followed up the stranger he would have found the miserable little craven trembling, cowering, in an agony of terror, behind a log in a natural trap, a walled-in glade only fifty yards away, and would surely have crushed him. Had he even taken the bath, his strength and courage would have been renewed, and if not, then at least in time he would have met his foe, and his after life would have been different. But he had turned. This was the fork in the trail, but he had no means of knowing it.

He limped along, skirting the lower spurs of the Shoshones, and soon came on that horrid smell that he had known for years, but [Pg 154] never followed up or understood. It was right in his road, and he traced it to a small, barren ravine that was strewn over with skeletons and dark objects, and Wahb, as he passed, smelled a smell of many different animals, and knew by its quality that they were lying dead in this treeless, grassless hollow. For there was a cleft in the rocks at the upper end, whence poured a deadly gas; invisible but heavy, it filled the little gulch like a brimming poison bowl, and at the lower end there was a steady overflow. But Wahb knew only that the air that poured from it as he passed made him dizzy and sleepy, and repelled him, so that he got quickly away from it and was glad once more to breathe the piny wind.

[Pg 155] Once Wahb decided to retreat, it was all too easy to do so next time; and the result worked double disaster. For, since the big stranger was allowed possession of the sulphur-spring, Wahb felt that he would rather not go there. Sometimes when he came across the traces of his foe, a spurt of his old courage would come back. He would rumble that thunder-growl as of old, and go painfully lumbering along the trail to settle the thing right then and there. But he never overtook the mysterious giant, and his rheumatism, growing worse now that he was barred from the cure, soon made him daily less capable of either running or fighting.

Sometimes Wahb would sense [Pg 156] his foe's approach when he was in a bad place for fighting, and, without really running, he would yield to a wish to be on a better footing, where he would have a fair chance. This better footing never led him nearer the enemy, for it is well known that the one awaiting has the advantage.

Some days Wahb felt so ill that it would have been madness to have staked everything on a fight, and when he felt well or a little better, the stranger seemed to keep away.

Wahb soon found that the stranger's track was most often on the Warhouse and the west slope of the Piney, the very best feeding-grounds. To avoid these when he did not feel equal to fighting was [Pg 157] only natural, and as he was always in more or less pain now, it amounted to abandoning to the stranger the best part of the range.

Weeks went by. Wahb had meant to go back to his bath, but he never did. His pains grew worse; he was now crippled in his right shoulder as well as in his hind leg.

The long strain of waiting for the fight begot anxiety, that grew to be apprehension, which, with the sapping of his strength, was breaking down his courage, as it always must when courage is founded on muscular force. His daily care now was not to meet and fight the invader, but to avoid him till he felt better.

[Pg 158] Thus that first little retreat grew into one long retreat. Wahb had to go farther and farther down the Piney to avoid an encounter. He was daily worse fed, and as the weeks went by was daily less able to crush a foe.

He was living and hiding at last on the Lower Piney—the very place where once his Mother had brought him with his little brothers. The life he led now was much like the one he had led after that dark day. Perhaps for the same reason. If he had had a family of his own all might have been different. As he limped along one morning, seeking among the barren aspen groves for a few roots, or the wormy partridge-berries that were too poor [Pg 159] to interest the Squirrel and the Grouse, he heard a stone rattle down the western slope into the woods, and, a little later, on the wind was borne the dreaded taint. He waded through the ice-cold Piney,—once he would have leaped it,—and the chill water sent through and up each great hairy limb keen pains that seemed to reach his very life. He was retreating again—which way? There seemed but one way now—toward the new ranch-house.

But there were signs of stir about it long before he was near enough to be seen. His nose, his trustiest friend, said, "Turn, turn and seek the hills," and turn he did even at the risk of meeting there [Pg 160] the dreadful foe. He limped painfully along the north bank of the Piney, keeping in the hollows and among the trees. He tried to climb a cliff that of old he had often bounded up at full speed. When half-way up his footing gave way, and down he rolled to the bottom. A long way round was now the only road, for onward he must go—on—on. But where? There seemed no choice now but to abandon the whole range to the terrible stranger.

And feeling, as far as a Bear can feel, that he is fallen, defeated, dethroned at last, that he is driven from his ancient range by a Bear too strong for him to face, he turned up the west fork, and the lot was drawn. The strength and speed [Pg 161] were gone from his once mighty limbs; he took three times as long as he once would to mount each well-known ridge, and as he went he glanced backward from time to time to know if he were pursued. Away up the head of the little branch were the Shoshones, bleak, forbidding; no enemies were there, and the Park was beyond it all—on, on he must go. But as he climbed with shaky limbs, and short uncertain steps, the west wind brought the odor of Death Gulch, that fearful little valley where everything was dead, where the very air was deadly. It used to disgust him and drive him away, but now Wahb felt that it had a message for him; he was drawn by it. It was in his [Pg 162] line of flight, and he hobbled slowly toward the place. He went nearer, nearer, until he stood upon the entering ledge. A Vulture that had descended to feed on one of the victims was slowly going to sleep on the untouched carcass. Wahb swung his great grizzled muzzle and his long white beard in the wind. The odor that he once had hated was attractive now. There was a strange biting quality in the air. His body craved it. For it seemed to numb his pain and it promised sleep, as it did that day when first he saw the place.

Far below him, to the right and to the left and on and on as far as the eye could reach, was the great kingdom that once had been his: [Pg 163] where he had lived for years in the glory of his strength; where none had dared to meet him face to face. The whole earth could show no view more beautiful. But Wahb had no thought of its beauty; he only knew that it was a good land to live in; that it had been his, but that now it was gone, for his strength was gone, and he was flying to seek a place where he could rest and be at peace.

Away over the Shoshones, indeed, was the road to the Park, but it was far, far away, with a doubtful end to the long, doubtful journey. But why so far? Here in this little gulch was all he sought; here were peace and painless sleep. He knew it; for his nose, his [Pg 164] never-erring nose, said, "Here! here now!"

He paused a moment at the gate, and as he stood the wind-borne fumes began their subtle work. Five were the faithful wardens of his life, and the best and trustiest of them all flung open wide the door he long had kept. A moment still Wahb stood in doubt. His lifelong guide was silent now, had given up his post. But another sense he felt within. The Angel of the Wild Things was standing there, beckoning, in the little vale. Wahb did not understand. He had no eyes to see the tear in the Angel's eyes, nor the pitying smile that was surely on his lips. He could not even see the Angel. But he felt him beckoning, beckoning.


[Pg 167] A rush of his ancient courage surged in the Grizzly's rugged breast. He turned aside into the little gulch. The deadly vapors entered in, filled his huge chest and tingled in his vast, heroic limbs as he calmly lay down on the rocky, herbless floor and as gently went to sleep, as he did that day in his Mother's arms by the Graybull, long ago.