“We ain’t leavin’ like our friend from Pike County,” said Mr. Bickford. “I often think of the poor critter trottin’ off with face to the rear.”
“I hope we shan’t meet him or any of his kind,” said Joe.
“So do I. He’d better go and live among the wildcats.”
“He is some like them. He lives upon others.”
It would only be wearisome to give a detailed account of the journey of the two friends. One incident will suffice.
On the fourth day Joe suddenly exclaimed in excitement:
The exclamation was a natural one. At the distance of forty rods a man was visible, his hat off, his face wild with fear, and in dangerous proximity a grizzly bear of the largest size doggedly pursuing him.
“It’s Hogan!” exclaimed Joe in surprise. “We must save him.”
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.