‘A Bear and Two Tenderfeet’ continued

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Oxen, horses and mules were often used to haul logs and move freight in Pagosa Country prior to the arrival of motor trucks circa 1910. This photo shows a typical hookup.

We continue from last week with the story “A Bear and Two Tenderfeet” as told in 1926 by John Toner.
“… it seemed to Mr. Toner that all was lost. He framed telegrams in his mind to send to the relatives of the deceased tenderfeet and thought of employing an experienced politician to explain his own action, or lack of action. But, just then, one of the men in the tent (he could not tell which one) began to snore. The bear, no doubt, met and conquered the most dangerous enemies in the forest, but had ever heard a growl just like that.
“Curiosity soon changed to superstitious fear. He paused in his preparatory work of murder, backed out and began to walk in a circle around the haunted place. As the sound from the sleeping nasal diaphragm gathered force, the bear gave the location a wider and wider berth until he had trampled down an acre of grass.
“On his rounds he stepped in a steel trap but was so absorbed by the wonderful growth of sound that he paid no attention to the trap and continued to wear it with no inconvenience and —
“Gene Gross here arose with tears in his eyes and said that he had always pointed Mr. Toner out to his children as a symbol of truth (cries of Dutch Henry), but if this thing continued (cat calls and loud cries of Pot and Kettle), Mr. Toner would soon rupture his reputation and bring odium (loud cries of ‘Down with jealousy and monopoly! Put him out!’)
“The chair rapped for order and instructed the sergeant-at-arms to eject Mr. Gross or anyone else who showed they did not know the truth.
“Continuing, Mr. Toner said that the tenderfoot snored louder and louder until the two upright joints of the camp stove pipe jarred loose and fell down, but still neither of the two sleepers awoke. (Smothered groans of ‘Lord have mercy!’ and ‘Amen!’)
“Mr. Toner said that all things must come to an end. The sleeper finally brought forth one fearful, earth-splitting, rip-a-major note to the crack of doom, awoke, groaned, turned over, and instantly returned to sleep. As the last echo of the explosion died away up the canon, the bear stood straight up, gazed at the camp, and remarked ‘Whoof!’ and the next moment was cutting a swath in the timber in a frantic effort to get away from a fate a thousand times worse than being skinned alive.
“Not wishing to disturb their slumber, Mr. Toner silently descended his tree, and tiptoed out of camp and went home.
“The chair: ‘After all of this hullabaloo, why did you consider the tiptoe act necessary?’
“Mr. Stevens here arose and angrily protested. He considered the question …”
Return next week to learn more of the thrilling details of “A Bear and Two Tenderfeet.”