The Bears of Blue River
The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.
“Balser was more fortunate in his aim, and gave the bear a mortal wound.”
Bears of Blue River
|The Big Bear||3|
|How Balser got a Gun||31|
|Lost in a Forest||53|
|The One-eared Bear||79|
|The Wolf Hunt||104|
|The Fire Bear||171|
|The Black Gully||190|
|On the Stroke of Nine||217|
|A Castle on Brandywine||238|
|“Balser was more fortunate in his aim, and gave the bear a mortal wound”||Frontispiece|
|Bass and sunfish and big-mouthed redeye||4|
|“A wildcat almost as big as a cow”||14|
|“Little Balser noticed fresh bear tracks, and his breath began to come quickly”||15|
|“Fresh bear tracks”||17|
|“Imagine ... his consternation when he saw upon the bank, quietly watching him, a huge black bear”||19|
|“The bear had a peculiar, determined expression about him”||21|
|“When the bear got within a few feet of Balser ... the boy grew desperate with fear, and struck at the beast with the only weapon he had—his string of fish”||25|
|“The bear had caught the fish, and again had climbed upon the log”||29|
|“He could hear the bear growling right at his heels, and it made him just fly”||facing 44|
|“Tige was told to go into the cave”||facing 48|
|“Each with a saucy little bear cub”||facing 52|
|“Down came Tom and Jerry from the roof”||facing 60|
|Tige and Prince swimming about the canoe||facing 74|
|“’Lordy, Balser! It’s the one-eared bear’”||facing 88|
|viii“’Let’s get out of here’”||facing 94|
|“Balser rushed into the fight”||facing 102|
|“Mischief! they never thought of anything else”||108|
|“Balser turned in time to see a great, lank, gray wolf emerge from the water, carrying a gander by the neck”||109|
|“Bang! went Balser’s gun, and the wolf ... paid for his feast with his life”||117|
|“Caught them by the back of the neck”||123|
|“The boys tied together the legs of the old wolves and swung them over the pole ... and started home leading the pups”||127|
|“These hives were called ‘gums’”||135|
|“The cubs went every way but the right way”||facing 146|
|“The bear rose to climb after the boy”||facing 160|
|“Liney thrust the burning torch into the bear’s face and held it there despite its rage and growls”||facing 168|
|“’Help! help!’ came the cry”||facing 176|
|“’Now, hold up the torch, Polly’”||facing 204|
|“Polly continued slowly toward the bear”||facing 212|
|“Imagine his consternation when he recognized the forms of Liney Fox and her brother Tom”||229|
|“He fell a distance of ten or twelve feet, ... and lay half stunned”||233|
|En route for the castle||244|
|The castle on the Brandywine||252|
|“Balser hesitated to fire, fearing that he might kill Tom or one of the dogs”||263|
|“Espied a doe and a fawn, standing upon the opposite side of the creek”||273|
THE BIG BEAR.
Away back in the “twenties,” when Indianawas a baby state, and great forests of tall treesand tangled underbrush darkened what arenow her bright plains and sunny hills, therestood upon the east bank of Big Blue River,a mile or two north of the point where thatstream crosses the Michigan road, a cozy logcabin of two rooms—one front and one back.
The house faced the west, and stretchingoff toward the river for a distance equal totwice the width of an ordinary street, was ablue-grass lawn, upon which stood a dozen ormore elm and sycamore trees, with a fewhoney-locusts scattered here and there. Immediatelyat the water’s edge was a steepslope of ten or twelve feet. Back of the4house, mile upon mile, stretched the deepdark forest, inhabited by deer and bears,wolves and wildcats, squirrels and birds,without number.
BASS AND SUNFISH AND THE BIG-MOUTHED REDEYE.
In the river the fish were so numerousthat they seemed to entreat the boys tocatch them, and to take them out of theircrowded quarters. There were bass andblack suckers, sunfish and catfish, to saynothing of the sweetest of all, the big-mouthedredeye.
7South of the house stood a log barn, withroom in it for three horses and two cows;and enclosing this barn, together with a pieceof ground, five or six acres in extent, was apalisade fence, eight or ten feet high, madeby driving poles into the ground close together.In this enclosure the farmer kepthis stock, consisting of a few sheep andcattle, and here also the chickens, geese, andducks were driven at nightfall to save themfrom “varmints,” as all prowling animalswere called by the settlers.
The man who had built this log hut, andwho lived in it and owned the adjoining landat the time of which I write, bore the nameof Balser Brent. “Balser” is probably a corruptionof Baltzer, but, however that may be,Balser was his name, and Balser was also thename of his boy, who was the hero of thebear stories which I am about to tell you.
Mr. Brent and his young wife had movedto the Blue River settlement from NorthCarolina, when young Balser was a littleboy five or six years of age. They had purchasedthe “eighty” upon which they lived,from the United States, at a sale of publicland held in the town of Brookville on8Whitewater, and had paid for it what wasthen considered a good round sum—onedollar per acre. They had received a deedfor their “eighty” from no less a person thanJames Monroe, then President of