The cold Californian night saved the man’s life by freezing the blood that flowed from his wounds and sealing up the torn veins. He was a robust, hardy man, and he pulled himself together and refused to die out there in the brush. With his jaw hanging by shreds, his wind-pipe severed and his left arm dangling useless, he crawled to his horse, got into the saddle and rode to camp, whence his companions took him to the Liebra ranch house. Romulo Pico was sure Searles would die before morning, but he dressed the wounds with the simple skill of the mountaineer who learns some things not taught in books, and tried to make death as little painful as possible. Finding Searles not only alive in the morning but obstinately determined not to submit to the indignity of being killed by a bear, Pico hitched up a team to a ranch wagon and sent him to Los Angeles, a two-days’ journey, where the surgeons consulted over him and proposed all sorts of interesting operations by way of experiment upon a man who was sure to die anyway.
Searles was unable to tell the surgeons what he thought of their schemes for wiring him together, but he indicated his dissent by kicking one of them in the stomach. Then they called in a dentist as an expert on broken jaws, after they had attended to the other damages, and the dentist showed them how to remove the debris and where to patch and sew, and they managed to get the shattered piece of human machinery tinkered up in fairly good shape. The vitality and obstinacy of Searles did the rest, and in a few weeks he was on his feet again and planning prospecting trips to Death Valley, not The Valley of the Shadow through which he had passed, but the grewsome desert of Southern California where he found his fortune in borax.
When grizzlies ran in droves.
William Thurman, who owned a lumber mill on the Chowchilla mountain, not far from the Mariposa grove of Big Trees, told this plain, unadorned tale of an old-fashioned Grizzly bear hunt.
He was moved thereto by inspection of a Winchester express rifle, carrying a half-inch ball, backed by 110 grains of powder, that was shown to him by a hunter.
“If we had been armed with such rifles in early days,” said Mr. Thurman, “the Grizzly wouldn’t have achieved his reputation for vitality and staying powers in a fight. There is no doubt that he is a very tough animal and a game fighter, but in the days when he made a terrible name for himself he had to face no such weapons as that.
“I assisted in killing, in 1850, the first Grizzlies that were brought into the town of Sonora. I had heard a great deal about the Grizzly, and coming across the plains I talked to my comrade, Green, about what I should do if I should get a chance at a bear. I was a pretty good shot, and thought it would be no trick at all to kill a bear with the Mississippi rifle that I brought home from the Mexican war.