These particulars concerning Mr. Johnson’s vocation enable the reader to appreciate the emotions aroused in the breast of Old Clubfoot when he found a newspaper blowing about a bee ranch and saw a thrilling account of his own death at the hands of the redoubtable Jerky Johnson. He had just tipped over a hive and was about to fill up with luscious white sage honey when that deplorably sensational newspaper fluttered under his eye and the scandalous fabrication of Jerky stared him in the face. “This is the limit,” he moaned, and his great heart broke.
Slowly and painfully the poor old bear staggered down the valley. His eyes were glazed and he could not tell where the trees and barb-wire fences were until he butted his nose against them. The gout in his maimed foot throbbed horribly, and all the loose bullets in his system seemed to have assembled in his chest and taken the place of his once stout heart. But he had a fixed purpose in his mind, and on he went to its fulfillment, grimly determined to make a fitting finish to a romantic life.
At the lower end of the valley lived the country doctor. To his house came the club-footed bear at midnight, worn and nearly spent with the pitiful journey. There was a dim light in the back office, but it was unoccupied. Clubfoot heaved his bulk against the door and broke the lock, softly entered the room and sniffed anxiously of the rows of jars and bottles upon a shelf. His eyes were dim and he could not read the labels, but his nose was still keen and he knew he should find what he was seeking. He found it. Taking down a two-gallon jar, Clubfoot tucked it under his arm tenderly and walked out erect, just as in the old days he was wont to walk away from a farmyard with a calf or a pig under each arm. It has been said of him that he could carry off a steer in that fashion, but probably that is an exaggeration or even a fable.
Behind the doctor’s stable was a bucket containing the sponge used in washing the doctor’s carriage. Clubfoot found the bucket, broke the two-gallon jar upon the sharp edge and spilled the contents upon the sponge. Taking one last look at the stars and the distant mountain peaks, he plunged his muzzle into the sponge, jammed his head tightly into the bucket and took one long, deep breath.
In the morning “Doc.” Chismore found a gigantic dead bear behind the barn, with the stable bucket firmly fixed upon his head and covering his nose and mouth. Scattered about were the fragments of a chloroform jar, and between the claws of the bear’s maimed foot was a crumpled Sunday supplement of a yellow journal, containing an account of the slaying of Old Brin, the Club-footed Grizzly, by Jerky Johnson. Being a past master of woodcraft, Doctor Chismore read the signs like a printed page, and applying the method of Zadig he reconstructed the whole story of the dolorous passing of the greatest bear in the world.