"bald-face". jack london
"Talkin' of bear — "
The Klondike King paused meditatively, and the group on the hotel porch hitched their chairs up closer.
"Talkin' of bear," he went on, "now up in the Northern Country there are various kinds. On the Little Pelly, for instance, they come down that thick in the summer to feed on the salmon that you can't get an Indian or white man to go nigher than a day's journey to the place. And up in the Rampart Mountains there's a curious kind of bear called the 'side-hill grizzly.' That's because he's traveled on the side-hills ever since the Flood, and the two legs on the down-hill side are twice as long as the two on the up-hill. And he can out-run a jack rabbit when he gets steam up. Dangerous? Catch you? Bless you, no. All a man has to do is to circle down the hill and run the other way. You see, that throws mister bear's long legs up the hill and the short ones down. Yes, he's a mighty peculiar creature, but that wasn't what I started in to tell about.
"They've got another kind of bear up on the Yukon, and his legs are all right, too. He's called the bald-face grizzly, and he's jest as big as he is bad. It's only the fool white men that think of hunting him. Indiana got too much sense. But there's one thing about the bald-face that a man has to learn: he never gives the trail to mortal creature. If you see him comin', and you value your skin, you get out of his path. If you don't, there's bound to be trouble. If the bald-face met Jehovah Himself ! on the trail, he'd not give him an inch. 0, he's a selfish beggar, take my word for it. But I had to learn all this. Didn't know anything about bear when I went into the country, exceptin' when I was a youngster I'd seen a heap of cinnamons and that little black kind. And they was nothin' to be scared at.
"Well, after we'd got settled down on our claim, I went up on the hill lookin' for a likely piece of birch to make an ax-handle out of. But it was pretty hard to find the right kind, and I kept a-goin' and kept a-goin' for nigh on two hours. Wasn't in no hurry to make my choice, you see, for I was headin' down to the Forks, where I was goin' to borrow a log-bit from Old Joe Gee. When I started, I'd put a couple of sour-dough biscuits and some sow-belly in my pocket in case I might get hungry. And I'm tellin' you that lunch came in right handy before I was done with it.
"Bime-by I hit upon the likeliest little birch saplin', right in the middle of a clump of jack pine. Jest as I raised my hand-ax I happened to cast my eyes down the hill. There was a big bear comin' up, swingin' along on all fours, right in my direction. It was a bald-face, but little I knew then about such kind.
"'Jest watch me scare him; I says to myself, and I stayed out of sight in the trees.
"Well, I waited till he was about a hundred feet off, then out I runs into the open.
"'Oof! oof!' I hollered at him, expectin' to see him turn tail like chain lightning.
"Turn tail? He jest throwed up his head for one good look and came a comin'.
"'Oof! oof!' I hollered, louder'n ever. But he jest came a comin'.
"'Consarn you!' I says to myself, gettin' mad. 'I'll make you jump the trail.'
"So I grabs my hat, and wavin' and hollerin' starts down the trail to meet him. A big sugar pine had gone down in a windfall and lay about breast high. I stops jest behind it, old bald-face comin' all the time. It was jest then that fear came to me. I yelled like a Comanche Indian as he raised up to come over the log, and fired my hat full in his face. Then I lit out.