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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJoe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 34. A Grizzly On The War-Path
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Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 34. A Grizzly On The War-Path Post by :Lynne Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1004

Click below to download : Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 34. A Grizzly On The War-Path (Format : PDF)

Joe's Luck; Or, Always Wide Awake - Chapter 34. A Grizzly On The War-Path

CHAPTER XXXIV. A GRIZZLY ON THE WAR-PATH

It may surprise some of my young friends to learn that the grizzly bear is to be found in California. Though as the State has increased in population mostly all have been killed off, even now among the mountains they may be found, and occasionally visit the lower slopes and attack men and beasts.

Hogan had had the ill-luck to encounter one of these animals.

When he first saw the grizzly there was a considerable space between them. If he had concealed himself, he might have escaped the notice of the beast, but when he commenced running the grizzly became aware of his presence and started in pursuit.

Hogan was rather dilapidated in appearance. Trusting to luck instead of labor, he had had a hard time, as he might have expected. His flannel shirt was ragged and his nether garments showed the ravages of time. In the race his hat had dropped off and his rough, unkempt hair was erect with fright. He was running rapidly, but was already showing signs of exhaustion. The bear was getting over the ground with clumsy speed, appearing to take it easily, but overhauling his intended victim slowly, but surely.

Joe and Bickford were standing on one side, and had not yet attracted the attention of either party in this unequal race.

"Poor chap!" said Joshua. "He looks most tuckered out. Shall I shoot?"

"Wait till the bear gets a little nearer. We can't afford to miss. He will turn on us."

"I'm in a hurry to roll the beast over," said Joshua. "It's a cruel sight to see a grizzly hunting a man."

At this moment Hogan turned his head with the terror-stricken look of a man who felt that he was lost.

The bear was little more than a hundred feet behind him and was gaining steadily. He was already terribly fatigued--his breathing was reduced to a hoarse pant. He was overcome by the terror of the situation, and his remaining strength gave way. With a shrill cry he sank down upon the ground, and, shutting his eyes, awaited the attack.

The bear increased his speed.

"Now let him have it!" said Joe in a sharp, quick whisper.

Mr. Bickford fired, striking the grizzly in the face.

Bruin stood still and roared angrily. He wagged his large head from one side to the other, seeking by whom this attack was made.

He espied the two friends, and, abandoning his pursuit of Hogan, rolled angrily toward them.

"Give it to him quick, Joe!" exclaimed Bickford. "He's making for us."

Joe held his rifle with steady hand and took deliberate aim. It was well he did, for had he failed both he and Bickford would have been in great peril.

His faithful rifle did good service.

The bear tumbled to the earth with sudden awkwardness. The bullet had reached a vital part and the grizzly was destined to do no more mischief.

"Is he dead, or only feigning?" asked Joe prudently.

"He's a gone coon," said Joshua. "Let us go up and look at him."

They went up and stood over the huge beast. He was not quite dead. He opened his glazing eyes, made a convulsive movement with his paws as if he would like to attack his foes, and then his head fell back and he moved no more.

"He's gone, sure enough," said Bickford. "Good-by, old grizzly. You meant well, but circumstances interfered with your good intentions."

"Now let us look up Hogan," said Joe.

The man had sunk to the ground utterly exhausted, and in his weakness and terror had fainted.

Joe got some water and threw it in his face.

He opened his eyes and drew a deep breath. A sudden recollection blanched his face anew, and he cried:

"Don't let him get at me!"

"You're safe, Mr. Hogan," said Joe. "The bear is dead."

"Dead! Is he really dead?"

"If you don't believe it, get up and look at him," said Bickford.

"I can't get up--I'm so weak."

"Let me help you, then. There--do you see the critter?"

Hogan shuddered as he caught sight of the huge beast only twenty-five feet distant from him.

"Was he as near as that?" he gasped.

"He almost had you," said Bickford. "If it hadn't been for Joe and me, he'd have been munchin' you at this identical minute. Things have changed a little, and in place of the bear eatin' you you shall help eat the bear."

By this time Hogan, realizing that he was safe, began to recover his strength. As he did so he became angry with the beast that had driven him such a hard race for life. He ran up to the grizzly and kicked him.

"Take that!" he exclaimed with an oath. "I wish you wasn't dead, so that I could stick my knife into you."

"If he wasn't dead you'd keep your distance," said Joshua dryly. "It don't require much courage to tackle him now."

Hogan felt this to be a reflection upon his courage.

"I guess you'd have run, too, if he'd been after you," he said.

"I guess I should. Bears are all very well in their place, but I'd rather not mingle with 'em socially. They're very affectionate and fond of hugging, but if I'm going to be hugged I wouldn't choose a bear."

"You seem to think I was a coward for runnin' from the bear."

"No, I don't. How do I know you was runnin' from the bear? Maybe you was only takin' a little exercise to get up an appetite for dinner."

"I am faint and weak," said Hogan. "I haven't had anything to eat for twelve hours."

"You shall have some food," said Joe. "Joshua, where are the provisions? We may as well sit down and lunch."

"Jest as you say, Joe. I most generally have an appetite."

There was a mountain spring within a stone's throw. Joshua took a tin pail and brought some of the sparkling beverage, which he offered first to Hogan.

Hogan drank greedily. His throat was parched and dry, and he needed it.

He drew a deep breath of relief.

"I feel better," said he. "I was in search of a spring when that cursed beast spied me and gave me chase."

They sat down under the shade of a large tree and lunched.

"What sort of luck have you had since you tried to break into my restaurant, Mr. Hogan?" asked Joe.

Hogan changed color. The question was an awkward one.

"Who told you I tried to enter your restaurant?" he asked.

"The man you brought there."

"That wasn't creditable of you, Hogan," said Joshua, with his mouth full. "After my friend Joe had given you a supper and promised you breakfast, it was unkind to try to rob him. Don't you think so yourself?"

"I couldn't help it," said Hogan, who had rapidly decided on his defense.

"Couldn't help it?" said Joe in a tone of inquiry. "That's rather a strange statement."

"It's true," said Hogan. "The man forced me to do it."

"How was that?"

"He saw me comin' out of the restaurant a little while before, and when he met me, after trying to rob me and finding that it didn't pay, he asked me if I was a friend of yours. I told him I was. Then he began to ask if you slept there at night and if anybody was with you. I didn't want to answer, but he held a pistol at my head and forced me to. Then he made me go with him. I offered to get in, thinking I could whisper in your ear and warn you, but he wouldn't let me. He stationed me at the window and got in himself. You know what followed. As soon as I saw you were too strong for him I ran away, fearing that he might try to implicate me in the attempt at robbery."

Hogan recited this story very glibly and in a very plausible manner.

"Mr. Hogan," said Joe, "if I didn't know you so thoroughly, I might be disposed to put confidence in your statements. As it is, I regret to say I don't believe you."

"Hogan," said Joshua, "I think you're one of the fust romancers of the age. If I ever start a story-paper I'll engage you to write for me."

"I am sorry you do me so much injustice, gentlemen," said Hogan, with an air of suffering innocence. "I'm the victim of circumstances."

"I expect you're a second George Washington. You never told a lie, did you?"

"Some time you will know me better," said Hogan.

"I hope not," said Joe. "I know you better now than I want to."

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