Cobwebs from an Empty Skull, by Ambrose Bierce

Stringing a Bear.

“I was looking for my horse one morning, up in the San Joaquin Valley,” said old Sandy Fowler, absently stirring the camp fire, “when I saw a big bull grizzly lying in the sunshine, picking his teeth with his claws, and smiling, as if he said, ‘You need not mind the horse, old fellow; he’s been found.’ I at once gave a loud whoop, which I thought would be heard by the boys in the camp, and prepared to string the brute.”

“Oh, I know how it goes,” interrupted Smarty Mellor, as we called him; “seen it done heaps o’ times! Six or eight o’ ye rides up to the b’ar, and s’rounds him, every son-of-a-gun with a riata a mile long, and worries him till he gits his mad up, and while he’s a-chasin’ one feller the others is a-goin’ äter him, and a-floorin’ of him by loopin’ his feet as they comes up behind, and when he turns onto them fellers the other chappy turns onto him, and puts another loop onto his feet as they comes up behind, and then —”

“I bound my riata tightly about my wrist,” resumed old Sandy, composedly, “so that the beast should not jerk away when I had got him. Then I advanced upon him — very slowly, so as not to frighten him away. Seeing me coming, he rose upon his haunches, to have a look at me. He was about the size of a house — say a small two-storey house, with a Mansard roof. I paused a moment, to take another turn of the thong about my wrist.

“Again I moved obliquely forward, trying to look as if I were thinking about the new waterworks in San Francisco, or the next presidential election, so as not to frighten him away. The brute now rose squarely upon end, with his paws suspended before him, like a dog begging for a biscuit, and I thought what a very large biscuit he must be begging for! Halting a moment, to see if the riata was likely to cut into my wrist, I perceived the beast had an inkling of my design, and was trying stupidly to stretch his head up out of reach.

“I now threw off all disguise, and whirled my cord with a wide circular sweep, and in another moment it would have been very unpleasant for Bruin, but somehow the line appeared to get foul. While I was opening the noose, the animal settled upon his feet and came toward me; but the moment he saw me begin to whirl again, he got frightened, up-ended himself as before, and shut his eyes.

“Then I felt in my belt to see if my knife was there, when the bear got down again and came forward, utterly regardless.

“Seeing he was frightened and trying to escape by coming so close I could not have a fair fling at him, I dropped the noose on the ground and walked away, trailing the line behind me. When it was all run out, the rascal arrived at the loop. He first smelled it, then opened it with his paws, and putting it about his neck, tilted up again, and nodded significantly.

“I pulled out my knife, and severing the line at my wrist, walked away, looking for some one to introduce me to Smarty Mellor.”

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University of Adelaide
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http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/bierce/ambrose/cobwebs-from-an-empty-skull/chapter3.28.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31