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pick, feeling certain that we shall have some use for them. Far out on the great ice field our surly customer is seen lumbering towards us ; while a boat is being got ready to cut off his retreat should he take to the water, we step down upon the ice; on its surface, large pools of fresh water about a foot in depth spread themselves in all directions.
Our hunting ground rises gradually from the water's edge—a vast plain diversified with hummocks of snow-covered ice. At first we busy ourselves in selecting a course to avoid the pools ; our boots are well adapted for wading, but we desire to gain upon Master Brownie with as little noise as possible. We are forced, however, to wade, and worse still, to go right through a deep snowdrift in search of the bear, of whose whereabouts we have not the slightest clue. Suddenly, he comes into view of our party, and presents an appearance as unlike the white-coated beasts we see in the Zoo as it is possible to imagine. On the contrary, we see a gaunt, pale, yellow, hungry-looking brute, swaying his sharpcut muzzle from side to side in restless indecision. Whether it is the momentary fear of danger, or the usual habit of the Arctic bear we could not then say, but we wished he would adopt a more steady and dignified bearing for a few minutes to enable us to take a more certain and deliberate aim. We
CUNNING OF THE BEAR.
learned afterwards that his hang-dog look and apparent confusion was assumed; for the men on board were able to follow all his movements, and from them we gathered that so far from being unaware of our tactics, the wily traitor was himself practising all his cunning in his efforts to cut off some straggler from our party. With this evident object in view, he was seen to make a large circuit, running from hummock to hummock, and hiding behind every elevation in his course as he stopped to listen to the sound of our tramping feet. In this
In this way he had managed to pass nearly to our rear, and another two hundred yards would have exposed us to an attack from a quarter we little expected he would have been found in. The great paws of the Arctic bear are admirably adapted for rapid and noiseless walking upon the ice and snow drifts. To prevent surprise we talk of the necessity of the rear man of the party in our. next bear exploit walking backwards to keep a good look-out.
When the beast found he was observed, he drew back to conceal himself behind the hummock nearest to him, and displayed no fear whatever. Our companion ran round to a point from whence he could see Master B. waiting for us, and the opportunity presenting itself he took steady aim, and dropped
the bear with a well-directed bullet. The body rolled over into a pool of water, and as he was quite dead it hardly needed the stout kick delivered by an incredulous looker-on to satisfy himself of the fact. Then the men proceeded to flay the hide. There was not the slightest trace of food in the miserably contracted stomach, and we were puzzling over this strange fact, unable to account for the vitality of an animal so empty, when one of the men volunteered to explain by what means the bear's life is sustained. According to him, when food fails these Arctic bears, a gland behind the middle claw in the hollow of the foot is sucked by the starving beast, and by this story, whose truth the man implicitly believed in, he unconsciously confirmed one of the oldest fables recounting the peculiarities of Bruin. We ourselves, however, had no opportunity of witnessing this interesting operation.
We now set to work in earnest. Attaching the rope to the hide, we dragged it towards the ship, while some of the men made a bonfire of the car
As the men make up the fire, we examine the powerful structure of the limbs ; flat and without any indication of strength when viewed from the front, the fore-arms are a vast network of powerful sinews, when looked at in profile,--the paw attached