LOST IN THE FOREST
 BALSER'S arm mended slowly, for it had been terribly bitten by
the bear. The heavy sleeve of his buckskin jacket had
saved him from a wound which might have crippled him
for life; but the hurt was bad enough as it was, and
Balser passed through many days and nights of pain
before it was healed. He bore the suffering like a
little man, however, and felt very "big" as he walked
about with his arm in a buckskin sling.
Balser was impatient that he could not hunt; but he
spent his time more or less satisfactorily in cleaning
and polishing his gun and playing with the bear cubs,
which his little brother Jim had named "Tom" and
"Jerry." The cubs soon became
wonder-  fully tame,
and drank eagerly from a pan of milk. They were too
small to know how to lap, so the boys put their hands
in the pan and held up a finger, at which the cubs
sucked lustily. It was very laughable to see the little
round black fellows nosing in the milk for the finger.
And sometimes they would bite, too, until the boys
would snatch away their hands and soundly box the cubs
on the ears. A large panful of milk would disappear
before you could say "Christmas," and the bears' silky
sides would stand out as big and round as a pippin. The
boys were always playing pranks upon the cubs, and the
cubs soon learned to retaliate. They would climb
everywhere about the premises, up the trees, on the
roofs of the barn and house, and over the fence. Their
great delight was the milk-house and kitchen, where
they had their noses into everything, and made life
miserable for Mrs. Brent. She would run after them with
her broomstick if they but showed their sharp little
snouts in the doorway.
 Then off they would
scamper, yelping as though they were nearly killed, and
ponder upon new mischief. They made themselves
perfectly at home, and would play with each other like
a pair of frisky kittens, rolling over and over on the
sod, pretending to fight, and whining and growling as
if they were angry in real earnest. One day Balser and
his little brother Jim were sitting on a log, which
answered the purpose of a settee, under the eaves in
front of the house. The boys were wondering what had
become of Tom and Jerry, as they had not seen them for
an hour or more, and their quietness looked suspicious.
"I wonder if those cubs have run away," said Balser.
"No," said Jim, "bet they won't run away; they've got
things too comfortable here to run away. Like as not
they're off some place plannin' to get even with us
because we ducked them in the water trough awhile ago.
They looked awful sheepish when they got out, and as
they went off together I jus'
 thought to myself
they were goin' away to think up some trick on us."
Balser and Jim were each busily engaged eating the half
of a blackberry pie. The eave of the house was not very
high, perhaps seven or eight feet from the ground, and
Balser and Jim were sitting under it, bolding the baby
and eating their pie.
Hardly had Jim spoken when the boys heard a scraping
sound from above, then a couple of sharp little yelps;
and down came Tom and Jerry from the roof, striking the
boys squarely on the head.
To say that the boys were frightened does not half tell
it. They did not know what had happened. They fell
over, and the baby dropped to the ground with a cry
that brought her mother to the scene of action in a
moment. The blackberry pie had in some way managed to
spread itself all over the baby's face, and she was a
very comical sight when her mother picked her up.
The bears had retaliated upon the boys
 sooner than even Jim had anticipated, and they all had
a great laugh over it; the bears seeming to enjoy it
more than anybody else. The boys were ready to admit
that the joke was on them, so they took the cubs back
to the milk-house, and gave them a pan of rich milk as
The scrapes these cubs got themselves and the boys into
would fill a large volume; but I cannot tell you any
more about them now, as I want to relate an adventure
having not fun in it, which befell Balser and some of
his friends soon after his arm was well.
It was blackberry time, and several children had come
to Balser's home for the purpose of making a raid upon
a large patch of wild blackberries that grew on the
other side of the river, a half-hour's walk from Mr.
Soon after daybreak one morning, the little party,
consisting of Balser and Jim, Tom Fox and his sister
Liney (which is
 "short" for Pau-li-ne), and
three children from the family of Mr. Neigh, paddled
across the river in a canoe which Balser and his father
had made form a large gum log, and started westward for
the blackberry patch.
Tom and Jerry had noticed the preparations for the
journey with considerable curiosity, and felt very much
hurt that they were not to be taken along. But they
were left behind, imprisoned in a pen which the boys
had built for them, and their whines and howls of
complaint at such base treatment could be heard until
the children were well out of sight of the house.
The party hurried along merrily, little thinking that
their journey home would be one of sadness; and soon
they were in the midst of the blackberries, picking as
rapidly s possible, and filling their gourds with the
They worked hard all the morning, and the deerskin
sacks which they had brought with them were nearly
 Toward noon the children became hungry, and
without a dissenting voice agreed to eat dinner.
They had taken with them for lunch a loaf of bread and
a piece of cold venison, but Balser suggested that he
should go into the woods and find a squirrel or two to
help out their meal. In the meantime Tom Fox had
started out upon a voyage of discovery, hoping that he,
too, might contribute to the larder.
In a few minutes Balser's gun was heard at a distance,
and then again and again, and soon he was back in camp
with three fat squirrels.
Almost immediately after him came Tom Fox carrying
something in his coonskin cap.
"What have you there, Limpy?" cried Liney.
The children called Tom "Limpy" because he always had a
sore toe or a stone bruise on his heel.
"You'll never guess," answered Tom.
All the children took a turn at guessing, and
then gave it up.
"Turkey eggs," said Tom. "We'll have
eggs as well as squirrel for dinner to-day."
"How will you cook them?" asked one
of the Neigh children.
"I'll show you," answered Tom.
So now they were guessing how Limpy
would cook the eggs, but he would not tell
them, and they had to give it up.
The boys then lighted a fire from the
flint-lock on the gun, and Balser, having
dressed the squirrel, cut twigs as he had
done when he and his father dined on
Conn's Creek, and soon pieces of tender
squirrel were roasting near the flame, giving
forth a most tempting odour.
In the meantime Limpy had gone away,
and none of the children knew where he was,
or what he was doing.
Soon, however, he returned bearing a
large flat rock eight or ten inches in diameter,
and two or three inches thick. This
rock he carefully washed and scrubbed in
 a spring, until it was perfectly clean. He
then took coals from the fire which Balser
had kindled, and soon had a great fire of
his own, in the midst of which was the stone.
After the blaze had died down, he made a
bed of hot coals on which, by means of a
couple of sticks, he placed the rock, and then
dusted away the ashes.
"Now do you know how I'm going to
cook the eggs?" he asked.
They, of course, all knew; and the girls.
greased the rock with the fat of the squirrel,
broke the eggs, and allowed them to fall upon
the hot stone, where they were soon thoroughly
roasted, and the children had a delicious
meal. After dinner they sat in the cool
shade of the tree under which they dined,
and told stories and asked riddles for an
hour or two before they again began berry-picking.
Then they worked until about six
o'clock, and stopped to have another play
before returning home.
They played "Ring around a rosey,"
"Squat where ye be," "Wolf," "Dirty dog,"
and then wound up with the only never-grow-old,
The children hid behind logs and trees, and in dense
clumps of bushes. The boys would often climb trees,
when, if "caught," the one who was "it" was sure to run
"home" before the hider could slide halfway down his
tree. Now and then a hollow tree was found, and that,
of course, was the best hiding-place of all.
Beautiful little Liney Fox found one hollow tree too
many; and as long as they lived all the children of the
party remembered it and the terrible events that
followed her discovery. She was seeking a place to
hide, and had hurried across a small open space to
conceal herself behind a huge sycamore tree. When she
reached the tree and went around it to hide upon the
opposite side, she found it was hollow at the root.
Balser was "it," and with his eyes "hid" was counting
one hundred as rapidly and loudly as he could. He had
got to sixty, he afterward said, when a shriek reached
 his ears. This was when Liney found the hollow
tree. Balser at once knew that it was Liney's voice;
for, although he was but a little fellow, he was quite
old enough to have admired Liney's exquisite beauty,
and to have observed that she was as kind and gentle
and good as she was pretty.
So what wonder that Balser, whom she openly claimed as
her best friend, should share not only in the general
praise, but should have a boy's admiration for her all
In persons accustomed to exercise the alertness which
is necessary for a good hunter, the sense of locating
the direction and position from which a sound proceeds
becomes highly developed, and as Balser had been
hunting almost ever since he was large enough to walk,
he knew instantly where Liney was.
He hurriedly pushed his way through the bushes, and in
a moment reached the open space of ground, perhaps one
hundred yards across, on the opposite side of which
 the tree that Liney had found. Some twenty
or thirty yards beyond the tree stood Liney. She was so
frightened that she could not move, and apparently had
become powerless to scream.
Balser hastened toward her at his utmost speed, and
when he reached a point for which he could see the
hollow side of the tree, imagine his horror and fright
upon beholding an enormous bear emerging form the
opening. The bear started slowly toward the girl, who
seemed unable to move.
"Run, Liney! run for your life!" screamed Balser, who
fearlessly rushed toward the bear to attract its
attention from the girl, and if possible to bring it in
pursuit of himself.
"I just felt," said Balser afterward, "that I wanted to
lie down and let the bear eat me at once if I could
only keep it away from Liney. I shouted and threw clods
and sticks at it, but on it went toward her. I reckon
it thought she was the nicest and preferred her to me.
It was right, too, for
 she was a heap the nicest,
and I didn't blame the bear for wanting her.
"Again I shouted, 'Run, Liney! Run!' My voice seemed to
waken her, and she started to run as fast as she could
go, with the bear after her, and I after the bear as
fast as I could go. I was shouting and doing my best to
make the bear run after me instead of Liney; but it
kept right on after her, and she kept on running faster
and faster into the dark woods. In a short time I
caught up with the bear, and kicked it on the side as
hard s I could kick. That made it mad, and it turned
upon me with a furious growl, as much as to say that it
would settle with me pretty quick and then get Liney.
After I had kicked it I started to run toward my gun,
which was over by the blackberry patch. For a while I
could hear the bear growling and putting right at my
heels, and it made me just fly, you may be sure. I
never ran so fast in all my life, for I knew that I
could not hold out long against the bear, and that if I
didn't get my gun quick
 he would surely get me. I
did not care as much as you might think, nor was I very
badly frightened, for I was so glad I had saved liney.
But naturally I wanted to save myself too, if possible,
so, as I have said, I ran as I never ran before—or
since, for that matter.
"Soon the growls of the bear began to grow indistinct,
and presently they ceased and I thought I had left it
behind. So I kept on running toward my gun, and never
stopped to look back until I heard another scream from
Liney. Then I looked behind me, and saw that the bear
had turned and was again after her, although she was
quite a distance ahead of it.
"I thought at first that I should turn back and kick
the bear again, and just lie down and let it eat me if
nothing else would satisfy it; but I was so near my gun
that I concluded to get it and then hurry back and
shoot the bear instead of kicking it.
"I heard Liney scream again and heard her call
'B-a-l-s-e-r,' and that made me run
 even faster
than the bear made me go. It was but a few seconds
until I had my gun and had started back to help Liney.
"Soon I was at the hollow sycamore, but the bushes into
which Liney had run were se thick and dark that I could
see neither her nor the bear. I quickly ran into the
woods where I thought Liney had gone, and when I was a
little way into the thicket I called to her, but she
did not answer. I then went on, following the track of
the bear as well as I could. Bears, you know, have long
flat feet that do not sink into the ground and leave a
distinct track like a deer's foot does, so I soon lost
the bear tracks and did not know which way to go.
"I kept going, however, calling loudly for Liney every
now and then, and soon I was so deep into the forest
that it seemed almost night. I could not see far in any
direction on account of the thick underbrush, and at a
little distance objects appeared indistinct. On I went,
 not where, calling 'Liney! Liney!' at nearly
every step; but I heard no answer, and it seemed that I
liked Liney Fox better than anybody in all the world,
and would have given my life to save her."
After Balser had gone into the woods to help Liney the
other children gathered in a frightened group about the
tree under which they had eaten dinner. There they
waited in the gretest anxiety and fear until the sun
had almost sunk below the horizon, but Balser and Liney
did not return. Shortly before dark the children
started homeward, very heavy-hearted and sorrowful, you
may be sure. When they reached the river they paddled
across and told Mr. Brent that Balser and Liney were
lost in the woods, and that when last seen a huge bear
was in pursuit of Liney. Balser's father lost not a
moment, but ran to a hill near the house, upon the top
of which stood a large stack of dry grass, leaves, and
wood, placed there for the purpose of signalling the
neighbours in case of distress. He at
 once put
fire to the dry grass, and soon there was a blaze, the
light from which could be seen for miles around.
Mr. Brent immediately crossed the river, and leaving
Tom Fox behind to guide the neighbours, walked rapidly
in the direction of the place where Balser and Liney
had last been seen. He took with him the dogs, and a
number of torches which hi intended to light from a
tinder-box if he should need them.
The neighbours soon hurried to the Brent home in
response to the fire signal, and several of them
started out to rescue the children, if possible. If
help were to be given, it must be done at once. A night
in the woods meant almost certain death to the boy and
girl; for, besides bears and wolves, there had been for
several weeks a strolling band of Indians in the
Although the Indians were not brave enough to attack a
settlement, they would be only too ready to steal the
children, did they but have the opportunity.
 These Indians slept all day in dark, secluded
spots, and roamed about at night, visiting the houses
of the settlers under cover of darkness, for the
purpose of carrying off anything of value upon which
they could lay their hands. Recently several houses had
been burned, and some twenty miles up the river a woman
had been found murdered near the bank. Two children
were missing from another house, and a man while out
hunting had been shot by an unseen enemy.
These outrages were all justly attributed to the
Indians; and if they should meet Balser and Liney in
the lonely forest, Heaven itself only knew what might
become of the children,—a bear would be a more merciful
All night Mr. Brent and the neighbours searched the
forest far and near.
Afterward Balser told the story of that terrible night,
and I will let him speak:—
"I think it was after six o'clock when I went into the
woods in pursuit of Liney and the bear. It was almost
dark at that time in
 the forest, and a little
later, when the sun had gone down and a fine drizzle of
rain had begun to fall, the forest was so black that
once I ran against a small tree because I did not see
"I wandered about for what seemed a very long time,
calling for Liney; then I grew hopeless and began to
realize that I was lost. I could not tell from which
direction I had come, nor where I was going. Everything
looked alike all about me—a deep, black bank of
nothing, and a nameless fear stole over me. I had my
gun, but of what use was it, when I could not see my
hand before me? Now and then I heard wolves howling,
and it seemed that their voices came from every
direction. Once a black shadow ran by me with a snarl
and a snap and I expected every moment to have the
hungry pack upon me, and to be torn into pieces. What
if they should attack Liney? The thought almost drove
"I do not know how long I had wandered through the
forest but it must have been
 eight or nine hours,
when I came to the river. I went to the water's edge
and put my hand in the stream to learn which way the
current ran, for I was so confused and so entirely lost
that I did not know which direction was down-stream. I
found that the water was running toward my right, and
then I climbed back to the bank and stood in helpless
confusion for a few minutes.
"Nothing could be gained by standing there watching the
water, like a fish-hawk, so I walked slowly down the
river. I had been going down-stream for perhaps twenty
minutes, when I saw a tall man come out of the woods, a
few yards ahead of me, and walk rapidly toward the
river bank. He carried something on his shoulder, as a
man would carry a sack of wheat, and when he had
reached the river bank, where there was more light, I
could see from his dress that he was an Indian. I could
not tell what it was he carried, but in a moment I
thought of Liney and ran toward him. I reached the
place where he had gone down the bank
 just in time
to see him place his burden in a canoe. He himself was
on the point of stepping in when I called to him to
stop, and told him I would shoot him if he did not. My
fright was gone in an instant, and I would not have
feared all the lions, bears and Indians that roamed the
wilderness. I had but one thought—to save Liney, and
something told me that she lay at the other end of the
"The open space of the river made it light enough for
me to see the Indian, and I was so close to him that
even in the darkness I could not miss my aim. In place
of answering my call, he glanced hurriedly at me, in
surprise, and quickly lifted his gun to shoot me. But I
was quicker than he, and I fired first. The Indian
dropped his gun and plunged into the river. I did not
know whether he had jumped or fallen in, but he
immediately sank. I thought I saw his head a moment
afterward above the surface of the water near the
opposite bank, and I do not know to this day whether or
not I killed
 him. At the time I did not care, for
the one thing on my mind was to rescue Liney.
"I did not take long to climb into the other end. I had
not taken the precaution to tie the boat to the bank,
and I was so overjoyed at finding Liney, and was so
eager in my effort to lift her, and to learn if she
were dead or alive, that I upset the unsteady thing. I
thought we should both drown before we could get out,
for Liney was as helpless as if she were dead, which I
thought was really the case.
"After a hard struggle I reached shallow water and
carried Liney to the top of the bank. I laid her on the
ground, and took away the piece of wood which the
Indian had tied between her teeth to keep her from
crying out. Then I rubbed her hands and face and rolled
her over and over until she came to. After a while she
raised her head and opened her eyes, and looked about
her as if she were in a dream.
"Oh, Balser!" she cried, and then fainted
again. I thought she was dead this time sure, and was
in such agony that I could not even feel. Hardly
knowing what I was doing, I picked her up to carry her
home, dead—as I supposed. I had carried her for perhaps
half an hour, when, becoming very tired, I stopped to
rest. Then Liney wakened up again, and I put her down.
But she could not stand, and, of course, could not
"She told me that after she had run into the woods away
from the bear, she became frightened and was soon last.
She had wandered aimlessly about for a long time, how
long she did not know, but it seemed ages. She had been
so terrified by the wolves and by the darkness, that
she was almost unconscious, and hardly knew what she
was doing. She said that every now and then she had
called my name, for she knew that I would try to follow
her. Her calling for me had evidently attracted the
Indian, whom she had met after she had been in the
woods a very long time.
 "The Indian seized her, and placed the piece of
wood between her teeth to keep her from screaming. He
then threw her over his shoulder, and she remembered
very little of what happened after that until she was
awakened in the canoe by the flash and the report of my
gun. She said that she knew at once I had come, and
then she knew nothing more until she awakened on the
bank. She did not know of the upsetting of the canoe,
nor of my struggle in the water, but when I told her
about it, she said:—
" 'Balser, you've saved my life three times in one
"Then I told her that I would carry her home. She did
not want me too, though, and tried to walk, but could
not; so I picked her up and started homeward.
"Just then I happened to look toward the river and saw
the Indian's canoe floating down-stream, bottom upward.
I saw at once that here was an opportunity for us to
ride home, so I put Liney down, took off my wet jacket
and moccasins, and swam out to
 the canoe. After I
had drawn it to the bank and had turned out the water,
I laid Liney at the bow, found a pole with which to
guide the canoe, climbed in myself, and pushed off. We
floated very slowly, but, slow as it was, it was a
great deal better than having to walk.
"It was just beginning to be daylight when I heard the
barking of dogs. I would have known their voices among
ten thousand, for they were as familiar to me as the
voice of my mother. It was dear old Tige and Prince,
and never in my life was any voice more welcome to my
ears than that sweet sound. I whistled shrilly between
my fingers, and soon the faithful animals came rushing
out of the woods and plunged into the water, swimming
about us as if they knew as well as a man could have
known what they and their master had been looking for
all night." Balser's father had followed closely upon
the dogs, and within an hour the children were home
amid the wildest rejoicing you ever heard.
 When Liney became stronger she told how she had
seen the hollow in the sycamore tree, and had hurried
toward it to hide; and how, just as she was about to
enter the hollow tree, a huge bear raised upon its
haunches and thrust its nose almost in her face. She
said that the bear had followed her for a short
distance, and then for some reason had given up the
chase. Her recollection of everything that had happened
was confused and indistinct, but one little fact she
remembered with a clearness that was very curious: the
bear, she said, had but one ear.
When Balser heard this, he arose to his feet, and gave
notice to all persons present that there would soon be
a bear funeral, and that a one-eared bear would be at
the head of the procession. He would have the other ear
of that bear if he had to roam the forest until he was
an old man to find it.
How he got it, and how it got him, I will tell you in
the next chapter.
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