“The cubs had stopped playing at the sound of the gun and run up close to her, and they were watching her for further orders. The old girl finally got her eye on them, and she looked at them solemnly for half a minute, and it was plain as print she was beginning to have suspicions. Then she was sure she had the thing figured out, and she fetched first one and then the other a cuff that sent them rolling ten feet away. When they got up bawling she was right there and gave them the darndest spanking two innocent cubs ever got. Every time she hit one he would go heels over head and yell blue murder, and by the time he got up she gave him another belt, scolding like an old woman all the time. It seemed to me I could almost hear her say, ’Play tricks on your mammy, will ye? I’ll teach ye. Get along home without your supper, ye little scamps, and take that.’ And so she went through the woods; spanking her babies, and they a’yelling for keeps and not knowing what they were being licked for, and I rolled around on top of the ledge, kicking my heels in the air and just bellowing with laughter.
“I thought that was the end of the funniest time I ever had with a bear, but it wasn’t. Along about the first of March there was a warm spell in the mountains, and I went down the South Fork to Devil’s Gulch, which heads up toward Signal Peak, to look over a timber claim and see if it was worth taking up. It was one of those warm days that take the snap out of a man, and I got tired and went to sleep under a tree. When I waked a bear had me half covered up with leaves and was piling on more. I wasn’t cold, and didn’t need any covering, but she seemed to think I did, and I reckoned the best thing to do was to keep still and let her finish the job. She seemed so serious about it that I didn’t dare take it as a joke and try any tricks on her, but I couldn’t figure out what her game was. She covered me with oak leaves, pine-needles and dirt from head to foot, and then all was still. I couldn’t see, and I didn’t dare to lift my head and shake off the leaves.
“After a while I made up my mind to take some chances to find out if the bear was on watch, and I wiggled my foot. Nothing happened, so I wiggled it a little harder. Then I felt around slowly until I got hold of my gun, and when I had that where I could handle it, I jumped up and shook the leaves and dirt from my face. The bear was gone. I had a sort of notion of what she was driving at, and so I fixed up the pile of leaves just as she had left them, went up the hill a little way and shinned a tree.
“About half an hour later the bear came back, leading two half-grown cubs so thin you could count their slats, and I recognized the interesting family I had met and had fun with in the fall. She was saying things to them in bear-talk, sort of whining and grunting, and they wobbled along behind her up to that pile of leaves. The cubs laid down with their tongues hanging out as if they were pretty tired, and the old girl tackled the pile confidently. It was plain enough that she had cached me for dinner, gone home into the gulch after the cubs and brought them back to have a square meal after being holed up for two or three months.