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Eric, the son, was the mighty hunter. On his shoulder hung the
A short time prior to our meeting with these men they had fallen
In the northern wilds it not unfrequently happens that when Bruin's winter quarters are known, and that he is to be attacked, a sledge is driven near to the ring in readiness to bring home the carcass—Eric and his comrades being all confidence. Such was the case in the present instance; and the precaution, as it turned out, was well timed : the vehicle served to convey from the forest the bear and his antagonist side by side: the bear dead, and poor Eric nearly so!
To return. We were glad to get back to the shealing, though we fared somewhat roughly there. Our beds, it is true, merely consisted of hay, and a coverlid or two that we had borrowed at the glass works; but still, having plenty of firing, and being protected from the falling weather, to which we had recently been exposed, we found ourselves in clover. We were now well off for provisions, having game of several kinds in abundance. Though entertaining very faint hopes of finding the bear, of which we had come so far in search, we still determined, prior to departing finally from the hut, to give the suspected ground another trial. On the following morning, therefore, we resumed the search.
The part of the forest where the tracks of the beast had last been seen, and near to which he was still suspected to harbour, consisted for the most part of windfälle, or wind-fall. In other words, the ground was thickly strewn with the trunks, as well as branches, of innumerable trees which, from storms and other causes, had at former times been levelled with the earth. In some places these wrecks were piled to a considerable height on one another, which, coupled with the broken nature of the ground, rendered it at times difficult to progress on skidor. It would have been nearly impracticable, indeed, if the snow, which was near four feet in depth,
had not greatly tended to equalize the surface. This wind-fall the Delecarlians lately spoken
of, as well as ourselves, had previously beaten through, it is true, somewhat cursorily; but we nevertheless thought it worth another trial. Whilst, in the middle of it, one of the dogs, throwing his head into the air, commenced baying deeply. It was evident from his tone that the hound had winded either the bear or some other noxious animal, though at fault as to the quarter from whence the taint
A few seconds afterwards he made out the den, which was situated beneath one of the masses of prostrate timber mentioned. Stationing myself immediately above the spot, I called Elg, who was at about one hundred and fifty paces higher up the mountain, to my assistance. Though the dogs--for by this time they were together kept challenging furiously, the bear would not leave his retreat. Finding this the case I desired Elg to hand me his gun, and, as on the former occasion, to turn out the beast with a stake. This object he very quickly effected; for Bruin no sooner felt the pole at his posteriors, where Elg through a chink in the logs had applied it, than out he bolted in double quick time, and, to judge from appearances, in anything but an amiable mood. An instant afterwards, the brute being then at only a few paces' distance, I fired, and severely wounded him in the neck. On receiving the bullet he showed an evident intention of coming at me, but was probably deterred by the depth and looseness of the snow, and the attacks of the dogs, which kept baying immediately about his hind quarters. It was well the brute did not charge, for stuck as I and my skidor were amongst the logs, retreat was utterly impracticable. The scene at this time was a striking one, and I regretted that a Londoner was not there to depict it. Dropping the discharged gun, and catching up Elg's, which was lying in readiness at my feet, I attempted to fire, but though the cap duly exploded, the piece did not go off. Three or four other caps, that I put on in rapid succession, had no better result. At length the bear, which in the interval had been gradually retreating, was lost to view in the forest.
To put the guns to rights was the work of time. My own was smothered with snow; and Elg's, on examination, was found never to have been loaded ! an omission on his part for which it was difficult to account, and one too that might have cost us dear; for, after my piece had been discharged, we were without weapon of any sort or kind. Both guns being at length in order, we renewed the chase. But it lasted a very short time; for what with loss of blood and the attacks of the dogs the progress of the beast was slow, and we were soon enabled to approach within short range, when a bullet brought him lifeless to the ground. Leaving Elg to skin the bear—a male, much wasted from the wounds he had received in the early part of the winter—I started on skidor to Gafunda for a sledge, on which to convey thither our hard-earned prize, as also the baggage left at the shealing, which was not far distant. Here we remained a day or two, in which time the bears left en cache were brought down from the forest, and the skins partially dried. Subsequently we returned to our respective homes. And we had persevered quite long enough ; for at this period, from the rapid breaking up of the frost, the country was in a wretched and somewhat dangerous state for travelling.
Sweden, Dec., 1846.
CHAPTER IX.-THE CONVIVIALS,
“ Time levels all around" — The Sequel to the Adventure with Mary Jessop-A
To return to the convivials in Sydney's chambers. With the withdrawal of the Earl of Avonshire good humour and social feeling resumed their influence o'er the choice spirits assembled there. Tom Sparkle proposed the health of Fitzgeorge, and, in doing so, spoke of him in such glowing terms that, though no one could doubt the truth and sincerity of the eulogium, it quite
overpowered the grateful heart of the latter, who, in rising to return thanks, felt himself very much in the situation of the celebrated Addison when in the House of Commons, who rose three times, commencing, “ Sir, I move”. -and then sat down-as some witty member remarked—“and brought forth nothing." Fitzgeorge, however, did contrive to ejaculate
" Old fellows, I thank you from my soul I do-but-but-a man's vices should be spoken to his face—his virtues behind his back. My friend Sparkle has reversed the axiom and embarrassed my oratory. I am like the jolly old Grecian-less sober than I seem to be. The intoxication of gratitude paralyzes the tongue, while it quickens the action of the heart. Mine is, at present, too full for utterance."
Loud cheering followed this brief address, and then Sydney directed old Mark Supple to prepare another bowl of bishop; when Arthur Primrose, the poet of the party, chaunted his own lines in favour of the liquor divine :
“Let Sacred Nine or sage define
The passions of the soul;
True courage in the bowl.
Of happiness the bowl.
To elevate the soul,
Their nectar from the bowl.
“The spicy East perfumes our feast,
Oporto yields its dole ;
Is bishop in the bowl.
The hours as they roll ;
Shall cheer our merry bowl."
“The old gentleman you have been singing about. D'ye take, Sir. He is peeping through the shutters, Sir.”
" Then shut him out, Mark—close the curtains—put more bishop in the skillet, and don't spare the brandy, Mark.”
And Mark, like a clever alchymist, proceeded to recharge his crucible for more potent effects, soliloquising, during the operation—"A sound sleep to the Domini. If the Dean's nose is as keen in the scent of good liquor as it was for venison we are all lost Muttons, and may be struck off the buttery books before breakfast.” But the Dean slept soundly, as all good churchmen should do ; and the merry students continued to do honour to the bishop.
“A song! A song from Prince Hal!” vociferated the party. Tom tried to find an excuse, as all good private singers do, thinking it enhances the favour, but his companions were not to be refused ; so, clearing his pipe with a bumper of claret, he commenced one of his own writing :
“ Tenuples, and towers, and walls decay,
Time levels all around;
Tenants an humble mound.
The fluttering bat delights
And revel in starry nights.
The fine old castles fade away ;
The baron's wreath is the ivy-green.
Now roofless and decay'd,
In crested steel array'd.
T'he fell destroyer claims;
From death the greatest names.
The fine old heroes fade away ;
Time's honour'd wreath is the ivy-green." All present had heard of the rencontre between Sparkle and his brother, and were anxious to hear the sequel ; but, up to this time, no one, save the expelled Earl of Avonshire, ħad, from delicacy, alluded to it. The free circulation of the glass had, however, removed all scruples of
diffidence; and Sydney, perceiving Tom to be in a very joyous and communicative mood, took that opportunity of broaching the subject.
“I think, old fellow," said Sydney, addressing Sparkle,“ this may now be considered a Cabinet Council, where all are sworn to secrecy. If the subject be ripe for friendly ears, we should like to know how the affair of the rescue ended between you
and your brother.” “ You have heard," said Tom, “ that we brought Mary safe home, and had the good luck to do so without meeting old Jessop and the gipsies whom he took with him to assist in the pursuit, or we might have been mistaken for the offenders, and met with a very rough reward before we should have had an opportunity for explanation. The old fellow of the Red Bull, and his man Billy Ducks, behaved well, and kept our incognito safe from the inquiries of Dashington ; but his man Lewis being, on his return to Oxford in search of Surgeon Wall, stopped and examined by old Jessop and his friend Black Will, they extracted the truth of the affair respecting the abduction and rescue at the peril of the pimp’s life, leaving, however, the name and condition of the rescuers involved in impenetrable mystery. In this state things remained until old Jessop's return, when, finding his daughter restored to home uninjured in person or character, he became acquainted with all the circumstances, and, as soon as might be, visited my room to thank me, as he said, for saving his Mary, preserving his own life, and preventing his committing a murder upon the person of my elder brother. For,' continued the old man, having discovered, through that rascally pimp Lewis, who his scoundrel master was (although he knew you not), and hearing from Mary who her kind friends and protectors were, I thought I would measure my revenge to one brother by my gratitude to the other ; and, although I am sure they cannot be weighed against each other, I am willing to leave the set-off in your favour.' Upon my honour, Frank, said I, my brother ought to be, as I am, very grateful to you for his forgiveness ; but I am not sure that you may not compromise your beautiful daughter's character by your generosity. This unpleasant affair may be talked of, and, to prevent misconception and silence scandal, I advise you, although Dashington is my brother, to demand a letter from him stating all the facts, and expressing his regret in the participation of the outrage. This suggestion the old man immediately adopted, and I had the gratification the next morning to read and approve of Dashington's expression of contrition. But, heaven save the mark! in becoming poor Mary's preserver and her father's adviser, I found I had involved myself in a deadly quarrel with my elder brother, who, during the discussion of the apology, had discovered for the first time that the bravo in the bear-skin coat and his cat's-head companion were no other than his younger brother and his man-tiger, who had rescued his beautiful prize from his arms, and well pummelled his head, beside dislocating his shoulder--a very pleasant fraternal greeting ; for a missive, brought by his friend Avonshire, was the consequence, inviting me to name a friend who would arrange a meeting for a cold breakfast in the morning. Requesting his messenger to give me half an hour to consider the brotherly proposal, I sent for my friend Fitzgeorge, and acting upon his advice, I wrote something to this effect--declining to give satisfaction to sanguinary revenge, resulting from profligate disappointment; but tendering him a promise of that wholesome personal cor