BLUFF MISSES SOMETHING
“Look out there!” shouted one of the cowboys.
“Run, boys!” exclaimed Frank as he started to turn his pony around so as to get beyond reach of the rapidly advancing bear.
He had just succeeded in doing this, and even started to gallop away, when he saw a sight that almost froze the blood in his veins.
Jerry had, of course, intended doing a similar vamoosing stunt. It happened, however, that his horse was more frightened than those of the others. When he jerked at the bridle the beast whirled with such a vicious fling that the boy, totally unprepared for such a move, and unable to get the grip with his knees that a cowboy always secures, went toppling over his head.
Frank, looking over his shoulder as he was borne rapidly away by his own alarmed steed, saw Jerry scramble to his knees. At any rate, he thought with relief, the other had escaped a broken neck in his ugly tumble.
Still, with that enraged grizzly bearing swiftly down upon him, in spite of the one rope that still held taut, the position of poor Jerry was not the most pleasant in the world.
Frank’s first and only inspiration was to turn his horse around and rush back to the assistance of his chum. It never occurred to him that being without his own rifle, he would only be adding to the trouble by offering Bruin a double sacrifice.
His pony, however, offered serious objections to facing that roaring hurricane of a beast. Despite Frank’s most strenuous efforts, he could only twist the animal’s head around, but not a step would the frightened beast approach. Dancing there, he snorted his distrust and alarm.
But Frank plucked up new hope. He at the same time saw something else that gave another aspect to the case. Jerry was not to be left alone to his fate.
“Hurrah for Mr. Mabie!”
In his excitement Frank let out this shout. It was caused by seeing the ranchman leap from the back of his own horse and rapidly run back toward the spot where Jerry crouched, apparently too winded to get to his feet and try flight.
Now Mr. Mabie had reached the boy, and the barrier of his heavy repeating rifle would be between Jerry and the grizzly. Frank expected to see the stockman drop on one knee and take aim at the bear, now very close to the two dismounted ones. Nothing of the kind occurred. On the contrary, he saw Mr. Mabie thrust the rifle into the hands of the boy, who seemed to seize it eagerly.
Jerry had declined to shoot the grizzly when the beast was held by a cordon of riatas. The conditions were now considerably altered, for the huge animal was rapidly bearing down upon him, with the fire of destruction in his small, blazing eyes. It was a case of bringing his advance to a speedy stop, or suffering the consequences.
Frank’s heart thrilled with pride as he saw his chum throw the rifle up to his shoulder and glance along the glistening barrel. Mr. Mabie had shown wonderful confidence in the boy’s nerve to thus place the solution of the problem in Jerry’s hands.