“Another time I was out in our cornfield, and hearing a rustling, looked through the stalks, and saw a brown bear with two cubs. She was slashing down the corn with her paws to get at the ears. She smelled me, and getting frightened began to run. I had a dog with me this time, and shouted and rapped on the fence, and set him on her. He jumped up and snapped at her flanks, and every few instants she’d turn and give him a cuff, that would send him yards away. I followed her up, and just back of the farm she and her cubs took into a tree. I sent my dog home, and my father and some of the neighbors came. It had gotten dark by this time, so we built a fire under the tree, and watched all night, and told stories to keep each other awake. Toward morning we got sleepy, and the fire burnt low, and didn’t that old bear and one cub drop right down among us and start off to the woods. That waked us up. We built up the fire and kept watch, so that the one cub, still in the tree, couldn’t get away. Until daylight the mother bear hung around, calling to the cub to come down.”
“Did you let it go, uncle?” asked Miss Laura.
“No, my dear, we shot it.”
“How cruel!” cried Mrs. Wood.
“Yes, weren’t we brutes?” said her husband; “but there was some excuse for us, Hattie. The bears ruined our farms. This kind of hunting that hunts and kills for the mere sake of slaughter is very different from that. I’ll tell you what I’ve no patience with, and that’s with these English folks that dress themselves up, and take fine horses and packs of dogs, and tear over the country after one little fox or rabbit. Bah, it’s contemptible. Now if they were hunting cruel, man-eating tigers, or animals that destroy property, it would be a different thing.”
* * * * *
THE RABBIT AND THE HEN
“You had foxes up in Maine, I suppose, Mr. Wood, hadn’t you?” asked Mr. Maxwell.
“Heaps of them. I always want to laugh when I think of our foxes, for they were so cute. Never a fox did I catch in a trap, though I’d set many a one. I’d take the carcass of some creature that had died, a sheep, for instance, and put it in a field near the woods, and the foxes would come and eat it. After they got accustomed to come and eat and no harm befell them, they would be unsuspecting. So just before a snowstorm, I’d take a trap and put it in this spot. I’d handle it with gloves, and I’d smoke it, and rub fir boughs on it to take away the human smell, and then the snow would come and cover it up, and yet those foxes would know it was a trap and walk all around it. It’s a wonderful thing, that sense of smell in animals, if it is a sense of smell. Joe here has got a good bit of it.”
“What kind of traps were they, father?” asked Mr. Harry.
“Cruel ones—steel ones. They’d catch an animal by the leg and sometimes break the bone, the leg would bleed, and below the jaws of he trap it would freeze, there being no circulation of the blood. Those steel traps are an abomination. The people around here use one made on the same principle for catching rats. I wouldn’t have them on my place for any money. I believe we’ve got to give an account for all the unnecessary suffering we put on animals.”