Read CHAPTER XV - IN A BEAR’S HOLLOW of The Outdoor Chums / The First Tour of the Rod‚ Gun and Camera Club, free online book, by Captain Quincy Allen, on

Jerry landed with a crash that almost shook the breath from his body.

Realizing the need of haste in getting upon his feet, he scrambled erect.  He had maintained that frenzied clutch upon his gun, as if believing that it was his best and only friend in this emergency.

One thing helped him.  The big yellow hound had been startled, first by the crash of the gun so close to his head, and then again by the rapid downward plunge of the human figure.

Perhaps some dim recollection of former beatings at the hands of some severe master may also have temporarily demoralized the brute.

At any rate Jerry was given just about five seconds to turn the corner, and thus place the tree between himself and his enemy.

Then the dog bounded forward, and a warm chase began around that same tree, with Jerry doing his prettiest to keep beyond reach of those gleaming fangs that pressed closely in his rear.

In this he managed fairly well, but after he had pranced around that tree quite a dozen times he made the alarming discovery that he was rapidly being winded.  His canine adversary, on the other hand, appeared to be as fresh as ever.

Unless something occurred to assist him, it began to look very much as though he might trip after growing dizzy, and the big yellow brute pounce upon him.

Then a sudden thought came into his mind.  It was like an inspiration, and made Jerry laugh right out.  Why, of course his gun, what was he gripping it all this time so desperately for if not because he believed it worth while.

He tried to remember whether he had fired one shot or two after reloading it.  So confused had he become with all this turning round and round that he could not be absolutely sure.  But there was nothing for him to do but take chances.

He felt to see if one of the hammers might be up, and found the left one drawn back.  That seemed promising, for if he had fired both barrels the hammers must naturally be down.

It might be only imagination, but he believed he could actually feel the hot breath of the pursuing beast on his legs as he twisted around that tree so awkwardly.  With a prayer in his heart, though his lips were mute, he suddenly whirled, thrust out the gun, and pulled the trigger.

Fortune was certainly with him that day.  The dog viciously seized hold of the gun barrel in his teeth; and it was just at this instant that Jerry pressed the trigger.

He saw the big beast swirl half-way around.  Then he fell in a quivering heap.


It was but a pitiful shout poor Jerry gave, for he was quite out of breath.  He, too, fell down in a heap close to the yellow form of his enemy; but instinctively his hands worked, trying to place his faithful gun in readiness for further work.

It was not needed.

Besides the big yellow leader of the wild pack, he presently found a second brute stone dead; and had the pleasure of dispatching both the others shortly after.

“Might as well make a clean sweep of it,” he said, with a feeling of having accomplished something worth while; for Jesse had told him these roving dogs were just as destructive to sheep and other domestic animals as so many timber wolves would have been.

Perhaps the farmers of the community might feel like voting Jerry thanks for his good service of that day.  And not knowing whether he could find the place again he proceeded to cut off the four caudal appendages, “to embellish his tale,” as Frank later on declared with a laugh.

“Guess I’ve had quite enough sport for to-day,” Jerry remarked, as he bent over the mutilated deer; “there’s quite as much meat here as I can carry home.  In fact, I’ve a good mind to hang most of it up out of reach of wild animals.  We could come for it another time.  From the looks of the sky that storm Jesse spoke about must be coming right along.”

So he determined to make haste.  While something of a novice at the art of cutting up a deer, he had a general inkling as to how it should be done.  Accordingly, after half an hour’s work he managed to swing the better part of the meat, fastened up in the skin, to a limb that he made sure was sound.

“Now for home with my trophies.  Say, perhaps the boys won’t open their eyes when I show these four tails, and get Toby to cook some of my venison!  This has been a red letter day in my calendar.  What was that-thunder, I do believe.  Perhaps-

Jerry did not even wait to finish his sentence, but started off on a lope.

But the gloom under the heavy timber increased.  He found difficulty in telling the points of the compass.  And finally it became absolutely impossible for him to make more than a half-way decent guess as to the quarter where the camp in all probability lay.

“I suppose I’m just about lost,” he at length reluctantly admitted.

Still, Jerry was not one to be easily daunted.  He had been in situations before now that called for a show of manliness and courage, and rather prided himself on being equal to any such occasion.

The thunder was booming heavily, and the rain ready to descend.  He believed he could hear a distant roaring.  It might be wind tearing through the forest, or a heavy fall of rain, perhaps both.  At any rate it would mark the breaking of the storm.

“Better be finding that hollow tree I spoke to Jesse about,” he concluded.

Once again luck favored the lad.  Not thirty paces away he discovered what seemed to be a big stump, about twelve feet or more in height.  It had an opening at the bottom, large enough for him to crawl through; indeed, to his mind, it was there especially for the very use he intended to put it.

Running forward just as the rain began to rattle down all around him, Jerry proceeded to crawl through the aperture.  He found the interior amply large enough to give him the needed shelter.  What was better, the opening happened to be on the leeward side, so that the driving rain could not find entrance.

“This is what I call a bully fit.  Talk to me about your cyclone cellars, what could beat such a cozy den as this?  I’m as snug as a bug in a rug.  Four wild dogs and my first deer, all in one day.  I guess that’s my top-notch record, all right.  Let her storm all she wants, so long as the lightning doesn’t take a notion to strike this blessed old stump,” he was saying as he mentally shook hands with himself over the day’s achievements.

After a long time, hours it seemed to Jerry, during a temporary lull in the howling of the gale, he ventured to peep forth.

Everything was pitch black around, save when the lightning zigzagged through space, and lighted up all creation with its electric torch.

“Looks like an all-night stand for Jerry.  There comes that wind tearing things loose again.  Wow! it was a big tree went down that time!  Hope none of them take a notion to knock my poor old stump flat, or I’d be squashed into a pancake.”

Like many other people, Jerry had a habit of talking to himself under stress of excitement Perhaps he believed that in this way he bolstered up his courage, just as some men whistle when they find themselves trembling in the face of some uncanny peril.

And there he crouched while the gale blew with renewed violence, and the night wore slowly on.  Several times there came a lull, and he began to hope the worst had passed; when once again the wind would swoop down, as though loth to give up its riotous dominion over the stricken forest.

Never had such a storm been heard of in October; even the first gale, which had demolished the roof of the Academy, and brought about this two weeks’ vacation for the boys, had not equaled this, coming from another quarter as it did.

Jerry had one bad scare.

He had blocked up the entrance as best he could with what stray bits of wood he found around.  Suddenly he felt his barrier moving, and realized that some wild animal was nosing around, trying to force an entrance for shelter.

It must, after all, be the lair of a bear which he had found.  Was this most remarkable day in all his experience to be wound up with an encounter that might dwarf the other into insignificance?

Jerry gave a shout.  At the same time he seized upon his gun, and fired one barrel squarely through the opening.  He thought he heard a loud “woof,” but after that there was no further molestation.

But, nevertheless, he lay there wide-awake, and on his guard.  Should Mr. Bear pluck up courage enough to return, he meant to be ready to give him a warm reception.

Time passed, and he believed the storm was really diminishing in fury.  It was certainly time, for from the various crashes Jerry believed considerable timber must have gone to the ground.

How thankful he should be to have escaped as well as he had.  Why, the mere fact that he was lost did not cut any figure in the matter when so many more terrible things might have happened to him.

There was really no sense of him leaving his snug retreat until dawn came, for he could not make his way in the storm-wrecked timber with any hope of success.

Again he poked his way out to take an observation.  Perhaps he was wondering if his shot could have killed the bear; but no sign of such met his strained eyesight when the next flash of lightning came.

But while he was thus trying to pierce the gloom around him, he heard a sound that thrilled him through and through-the sound of a human voice calling.

“Help, oh! help!” it came wailing through the night.