“When ther bar come to ther foot of ther tree he sot down on his haunches, ter kinder get breath a little, and then he begun ter climb it; and blast my picter boys, ef he couldn’t giv me three pints in the game of climbin’, and then beat me. It didn’t seem ter me he was more’n a second, gittin’ up. I kep’ climbin’ higher an’ higher, and the bar kep’ a-follerin’. By and by I got so high, that ther tree begun ter bend backwards and for’ards, but ther bar kep’ comin’ higher and higher.
[Illustration: Jerry and the Bear.]
“I saw ’twarn’t no use, so I made up my mind ter swing ther tree over ez far ez I could, and drop and try my legs onct more. So I clim’ a little higher, and when the tree begun ter bend, that bar sot thar and just laffed, if ever a bar laffed in this world. The tree kep’ swayin’ back’ards and for’ards jist like a cradle.
“I watched my chance, and, when ther top come putty nigh ther ground, I jist dropped, and, when I picked myself up, blast my eyes, ef thar warn’t ther bar, right side er me. Wal I started agin, but hadn’t run more’n fifty yards, afore I tripped and down I went. I knowed ’twas all up with me then, so I jist laid still. Why, I was so scart I couldn’t hev moved ef I’d tried; but I did look up jist once, to see the bar set clus by, watchin’ me, and lookin’ as mad as a wet hen.
“I never was so scart afore nor since. I ’spected every minute to feel his teeth and hear my bones a-crunchin’, but I didn’t.
“Putty soon I heered somebody down in the woods a-callin’. I ’spectcd it was dad, but I didn’t dare to holler or make any noise. I heered ’em callin’ agin and agin; putty soon I jist looked out’er ther corner of my eye, and see the bar was gone. At first I couldn’t believe it, and ‘spected he was playin’ ‘possum—waitin’ ter see ef I moved, afore he went for me. Well, I kep’ putty still for a while, but not hearin’ anything from the bar, I finally looked up, and see that he’d gone for good, and then I got up and started for home in just about ez big a hurry, ez any feller ever went down a mountain.
“I hadn’t got more’n half a mile afore I see a feller rite ahead of me, a-leadin’ that identical bar, thet bed been chasin’ me all day.
“I never was so took down in my life boys, I wouldn’t a bin s’prised at anything, arter thet. I mustered up spunk enuff ter speak to the feller, and he told me ’twas a tame bar, thet belonged ter him, thet hed got loose thet day, and he’d bin up a-findin’ him.
“Well boys, I never felt so ashamed of myself afore nor since.
“You may bet, I never told no one ’bout it afore, and I shan’t agin. That’s all.”
We were very much amused at Jerry’s story, and the boys pronounced it decidedly the best they had yet heard, and as the hour was late, we all “turned in,” in search of a good night’s rest.