“It’s the bears’ den sure!” cried Whopper.
“Yes, and I hear the second bear!” gasped Shep. “Get ready to shoot him as soon as he appears!”
All scrambled to their feet and brought around their weapons, ready for use. They looked to ward the cave-like opening and waited anxiously. Would the second bear leap out upon them and give them battle?
THE CAVES IN THE MOUNTAIN
One, two, three minutes passed, and still the young hunters stood with their firearms ready for use. But no bear showed itself. The silence was so intense it was positively painful.
“I am sure I heard him,” said the doctor’s son, presently.
“So did I,” added Snap. “I think he must be laying for us, thinking we are following him.”
“Excuse me from going into that cave,” came from Whopper. “Why, if a fellow went in there the bear would be sure to have everything all his own way.”
“And you’d come out and still be on the inside,” said Snap, with a short laugh. “Well, I don’t know about this,” he continued, drawing a long breath.
Again they waited. Then the leader of the club grew a little bolder and approached the mouth of the cave cautiously, holding his rifle in front of him.
“Snap, be careful,” warned Shep.
“Let us get out of this hole and then throw fire brands into the cave—–like we did when we were after the wildcats,” suggested Giant.
“It’s going to be no easy matter getting out of this hole,” answered the doctor’s son.
“Well, the bears must get out.”
“Maybe not—–that cave may have a back entrance.”
Snap walked slowly to the very mouth of the cave and peered inside. Nothing was to be seen. He picked up a stone and threw it inside. Not a sound but the falling of the stone followed.
“I believe the bear has gone,” he announced. “I can’t hear a thing.”
“He may be playing a trick on you, Snap,” said Giant.
“No, I think he has run away, by some back door, as you might call it.”
One after another the young hunters approached the mouth of the cave timidly and peered inside. As their eyes became accustomed to the gloom they made out that the cave was of good size. The other end was lost in the shadows.
It had now begun to rain steadily, and to keep from getting soaked they stepped into the mouth of the cave, taking with them several dry sticks and some dry leaves from the bottom of the outer hole. These they lit, and used the sticks for torches. They saw at once that the cave was really a bears’ den, for the bones of numerous animals lay scattered over the uneven flooring. But no bears were in sight, and this made them bolder and more willing to inspect their surroundings.
“I believe that bear ran away,” said Snap, at last. “For all we know, we’ll never see him again.”