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"'HE SAT DOWN AT HIS END OF THE ISLAND, DROPPED HIS PAW BESIDE A ROCK
AND WAITED PATIENTLY UNTIL--WHIPPP, WHISH!'" (SEE NEXT PAGE)
Whittling is a great avenue to thought, par- dropped his paw beside a rock and waited ticularly when one's tabac has got wet. And patiently until—whippp, whish!—he pulled I sat there at my end of the island making his paw up with a jerk, and a trout or a doré long white slivers of birch and watching them would be flopping on the beach. Quick as a fall into the current, eddy around once or mouse-cat he fell upon that fish, and it adtwice, then sweep out into the stream like a vanced into his mouth with much swiftness. vessel setting out for sea and not knowing the “And this reminded me of the hooks in my rough passage before it. I whittled and hatband. If Friend Bear would but give me whittled until I had used up a little tree and one piece of fish for bait, I would have a sucmy tabac had got dried on a stone, along with cess too, though the good waters were at his my matches.
end of the island. But I could not use my "Occasionally I looked at Friend Bear. fingers for bait. I did not get any fish. He But he was, as you say, still bearable. He would not give me any bait. was at his end of the island, making no offer "Noon approached. I found another stick to eat me, but also not offering to swim home to whittle, and amused myself with making and let me sleep. Instead he reclined on his numerous wriggly snakes by carving the haunches, panting like a dog, never taking whittlings from around the stick. It made his eyes, which were all of a reddishness, from the time pass and did not anger Friend Bear.
But the roar of Les Bébés sounded louder in “So I found a smooth stone and began to my ears, the hours till mon frère might come sharpen my knife, as a lesson to him. And seemed far beyond hope, and my hunger did thus the twilight came. A cool wind blew not diminish because I could see the bear down river, and the stars peeked over the eat. I was glad that he was content with trees on one side of the river of sky above, fish; but I was afraid that his taste would and jumped the river, and disappeared over turn; that he would seek another diet. the trees on the other side, one after another. "It was mid-afternoon, and we had just And the hours passed, one after another. completed our first day on the island, when I But Friend Bear and I, we did not go, one thought I heard a voice calling. But it was after another.
only Les Bébés. Any stream talks to itself "If I could have talked bear to him, like in a so lonely wilderness as that, and the Indians, I would have said: 'Friend Bear, let rapids were calling, calling down to the big us have truce till morning, and let me cuddle Jumping Rat that they were coming. It close to your warm fur. I promise not to made me very sad to think that I had not stick knife between your ribs.' But I had heard that which I thought to hear. It made only eighteen years then and had not learned me very sad, also, to see the sun creep from bear.”
our island, first from the far shore, then from "Have you learned it now?" asked E. L., the near. Evening, in which I could not half in earnest.
sleep to forget my hunger, was coming. And "Oui, certainement. Eh bien--the dawn now I discovered a new misery. Friend But mon frère did not.
And why Bear would be a friend no longer. The fish should he! He thought I had gone on, per- would come no longer to his quiet fishing-pool. haps, a day's trip after the beavair. Neither All the afternoon he had not caught one, and did anything come for breakfast. Friend he began looking hungrily at me. My Bear noticed this, and looked with a hunger matches were all gone but one. That I was at me.
I began to wonder how many hours, saving, though I did not know why. Somehow many days it would be till one of us was thing in my breast, said 'Save it!' and I was driven crazy enough to attack the other. saving it. But the bear for the first time For there was no other thing to do. On began to walk beyond his part of the island, either side of us Les Bébés laughed and looking at me. reached out their white hands for us.
“ 'Impossible, Monsieur!' said I to him; were hungry, too, like everything else in 'it is unworthy of you to eat a friend.' nature.
“But just the same, I could imagine what “But everything else in nature seemed to he would say to his mother when she found know how to get its breakfast-even Friend him, as she was bound to do. 'It hurt me, Bear. No, I do not mean that he began on ma mère,' he would say, 'almost as much as it me-that was later. He sat him down at his hurt him; but I was very hungry.' end of the island, where the water whirled “And I almost began to excuse him for eataround and around in a little still pool, and ing me, in my thoughts. He was a growing
bear, you see. Besides, I had only to close “Friend Bear trotted up to my end of the my eyes to imagine a pretty little fire of coals, island, not bothering about me at all, and besome neat bear steaks roasting above them, gan to cry out to his mother how glad he was mon frère sitting beside me saying how favor- to see her, and possibly some remarks about able it was to begin the winter's catch with a myself. She flung herself into the stream pretty bearskin, and all that. Yet when I and swam mightily for us, hauling her huge opened my eyes, the bear steaks were still in- brown dripping flanks from the river in less side the skin, there was no fire, no frère and time than I would have drowned in. They only the roar of those tiresome bébés in my sniffed at each other, until I had almost envy ears. Malheur! They make me ennuyé. of their gladness.
“All of an instant my heart jumped for “As for me, myself, I had retreated to joy. For there was a rustle in the bushes, a Friend Bear's end of the island, and was dark form-mon frère! Friend Bear pricked lamenting that I had whittled up all the trees up his ears and began to sniff, to cry low. on the island. It is a bad habit, whittling. 'Ah! Friend Bear!” cry I, 'who is the gour- If I had left myself one strong birch pole, permand now!' And I look a look of exultation haps I could have rendered a better account at him. But only for the once, because, of myself. But we never know what le bon when I signal to my brother, I find I am wav- Dieu has in mind. That whittling was very ing at a gigantic bear standing on the shore. lucky." I make the great eyes at it in my astonish- “I don't see how," said E. L. ment. My hairs I could feel standing feebly "You will see," said Prunier, continuing. up in horror. For now it was all over! I “Well, now the old bear had got done licking was still a tender age. I was probably the her whimpering son and began to plan for his first of the season for both of them. They next eal, which was me.
She stood up on would have the honor of dining on the son of her hind feet and looked like a locomotive Jean-Baptiste Prunier de Peribonka in about reared on its hind wheels, very black, very five minutes.
sniffy, and her eyes very small, but wicked looking. I made one glance at the boiling ing Rat and had come into the whirlpool at rapids below me, and began to wonder which the bottom. Everything that goes down was the better-to be swept into them, or those rapids collects there, goes sailing around into the bear's stomach. But the water looked for two, three days, and then is pushed into very uncomfortable; and as she began to the lower stream and out into the Lac aux advance I lost my fear. 'Come, Monsieur Rats. Prunier,' I said to myself, 'be not weak and “Well, that first afternoon, mon frère had throw your life away. Sell it like a French- gone up to fish at the foot of the rapids for man, like Napoleon, the gallant, the brave.' the trouts. It is the best place. One bait, And this thought gave me any quantity of one throw, one jerk, two trouts! courage. I picked up some stones.
“He was just arriving when he saw the “They had got done talking over their canot. It makes him sigh. He sees the plans, those two, and licking their chops, scratches of the bear and it makes him think. and were coming toward me, one down each Mon frère, he is a great one to think. He sits side of the island. I waited. Finally I down on a stone and thinks and thinks, first threw a round stone which hit Friend Bear of bear, then of me, then bear, then me. It is on the end of his nose. He gave a great a good place to think, for the water goes squeal and began to rub it. 'Voila, mon round and round and brings your thoughts ami' I said, 'it is necessary to be so brusque.' back to you. And all the time he thinks, he
“La mère was now angry, and I know I gets sadder. It is certain that I have been have only two or three minutes to live. I drowned in the Jumping Rat, and he even have a big stone ready for her nose, and a pokes under the foams for my body. It jack-knife and a good pair of legs, and just is n't there, though. So he must think some once I look around me at the rapids. But I more. like not to drown.
“Well, he prepares to go back to tent, for “And now she raises herself on her haunches he can not think anything else but that I am and looks high like a step-ladder, it was drowned, when all of an instant his eye sees frightful!--and with such small eyes that something! It is a quick eye, my brother's, had a reddishness in them. It would have and it sees something that should n't be there been sweet to live, for I had only eighteen - a long, white, fresh, birch whittling come years. It would have been pleasant to see sailing around and around in the pool. Permon frère again, for I love him. But le bon haps your eye, Monsieur Lucky, perhaps Dieu has our way marked out and we must yours, E. L., would not have seen that, but not depart from it. My way was down her mon frère is used to seeing things that can not red throat, malheureusement. But I said a
be well seen.
And it say something to him. little prayer for courage. She takes a step; I It say, 'Look at me, a nice new whittling. I take a step. The water sucks at my legs and did not make myself. Ton frère, he has I resolve not to give myself to it. She makes
Go hunt him, quick!' a horrible growl and stretches up to give a "That's what the other whittlings say, too, great prize-fighting blow at me. She towers. as they come sailing around and around in I am ready to jump sideways, to stab with the pool, 'Go hunt him, quick! my knife, to run, to repeat. With courage I “Mon frère, he gave a great shout and may win. She takes one last step and started off. He hunted carefully, and I
"Tenez!" (Hold! Bang-whizzzzzzz! don't see how he happened yet to pass me “Mon frère!'” I cry.
and Friend Bear and the island. It was the "The bullet plumps into her skull. She roar of Les Bébés that hindered him; or mayroars and lunges. I leap sideways. She falls be the mist that comes from the river; or with a terrific splash, head into the stream. maybe he think we must be farther along. I fall with weakness beside, and her last dy. Anyway, he keeps on from early dawn, calling kick gives me the bad arm, as you have ing, calling. But every time he calls, Les seen.” Prunier paused.
Bébés, they must have called louder. And “It was your brother, of course?" I asked. so he never found us. Then he turned sadly "Oui, mon bon frère."
home. And this time he was very sad “But how?” demanded both E. L. and I indeed, because he had just been so glad. together; "how did he get there?"
And he almost gives up searching, when all "That is the way le bon Dieu works when of an instant he looks up, sees la mère bear He wants His way,” said Prunier, reverently. risen so high above me to bring that last claw “You see, the canot had gone down the Jump- down upon her supper. He shouts 'Tenez!'
and raises his rifle, and crracks! You know foot-bridge over to the island. Was the the end.”
river too wide, Prunier?" Prunier rose, saying, “Let us couch our- “Too wide," said Prunier, his grin inselves; it is late."
creasing. But E. L. put a determined hand on his "Well, at any rate you got away and did arm. “You can't go before the end of the n't learn to swim. How did you do it, story, Prunier. For we want to know how Prunier?” you got off the island and what happened to “It was very difficult," said the guide, with the other bear.”
an open laugh at us. "Mon frère, he brought "Oh, mon frère had shot him, of course, the canot and we paddle upstream, two, said Prunier. “It was a fine begin for the three minutes." season, two robes.'
"Oh! Of course! I forgot the canoe,” “It sounds easy,” said E. L, "but how did we both said, looking rather shamefacedly at you get off the island? That was hard." each other. “But it was torn by the bear,
Prunier gave his little smile and the twin- Prunier.” kle in his eye. "How would you have got “That make no difference; new bark, new off?” he asked.
spruce gum, new canot, two-three hours. "How would you, Lucky?" E. L. asked me. You had better go to bed, too; you sleepy, I
“I suppose I should have brought up an think.” And he laughed again, delighted. ax and rope, if there were any, and have made We went, and despite the boundings of the a raft that would have stood the rapids." train, I was almost asleep when I heard E. L.
Prunier shook his head. "No raft ride the call down from his upper to the story-teller, Jumping Rat.”
saying, “Prunier, you had better learn to "Well, how would you, E. L.?"
swim, I think." “I suppose I would have hunted out a very "I will one day when the water he get a tall tree and felled that so that there was a little drier,” said Prunier.