Albert Bigelow Paine.

The Arkansaw bear; a tale of fanciful adventure online

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University of California Berkeley

The Theodore H. Koundakjian

of American Humor













Printed in the United States of America









I The Meeting of Bosephus and Horatio . 1 1

II The First Performance . . . ... . 20

III Horatio and the Dogs . .... . 29

IV The Dance of the Forest People . . 38
V Good-bye to Arkansaw . .. . . . , 46

VI An Exciting Race . . . . . , . 55

VII Horatio's Moonlight Adventure . . . 64

VIII Sweet and Sour . . . . . . . . 73

IX In Jail at Last . . . * . . . 83

X An Afternoon's Fishing 92

XI The Road Home 101

XII The Bear Colony at Last. The Parting

of Bosephus and Horatio . . . 1 1 1



"Oh, 'twas down in the woods of the Arkansaw,
And the night was cloudy and the wind was raw,


And he didn't have a bed and he didn't have a bite,
And if he hadn't fiddled he'd a travelled all night."

OSEPHUS paused in his mad flight to listen. Surely
this was someone playing the violin, and the tune was

He listened more intently.

"But he came to a cabin and an old gray man,
And says he, 'Where am I going? Now tell me if you can ' "

It was the "Arkansaw Traveller" and close at hand. The
little boy tore hastily through the brush in the direction of the
music. The moon had come up, and he could see quite well,
but he did not pause to pick his way. As he stepped from the
thicket out into an open space the fiddling ceased. It was

12 The Arkansaw Bear

bright moonlight there, too, and as Bosephus took in the situa
tion his blood turned cold.

In the center of the open space was a large tree. Backed
up against this tree, and looking straight at the little boy, with
fiddle in position for playing, and uplifted bow, was a huge
Black Bear!

Bosephus looked at the Bear, and the Bear looked at

"Who are you, and what are you doing here?" he roared.

"I I am Bo-se-Bosephus, an' I I g-guess I'm 1-lost!"
gasped the little boy.

"Guess you are!" laughed the Bear, as he drew the bow
across the strings.

"An-an' I haven't had any s-supper, either."

"Neither have I!" grinned the Bear, "that is, none worth
mentioning. A young rabbit or two, perhaps, and a quart or so
of blackberries, but nothing real good and strengthening to
fill up on." Then he regarded Bosephus reflectively, and began
singing as he played softly:

"Oh. we'll have a little music first and then some supper, too.
But before we have the supper we will play the music through."

"No hurry, you know. Be cool, please, and don't wiggle

But Bosephus, or Bo, as he was called, was very much dis
turbed. So far as he could see there was no prospect of supper
for anybody but the Bear.

"You'll forget all about supper pretty soon," continued the
Bear, fiddling.

"You'll forget about your supper you'll forget about your home
You'll forget you ever started out in Arkansaw to roam."

"My name is Horatio," he continued. "Called Ratio for
short. But I don't like it. Call me Horatio, in full, please."


14 The Arkansaw Bear

"Oh, ye-yes, sir!" said Bo, hastily.

"See that you don't forget it !" grunted the Bear. "I don't
like familiarity in my guests. But I am clear away from the
song I was singing when you came tearing out of that thicket.
Seems like I never saw anybody in such a hurry to see me as you

"Now the old man sat a-fiddling by the little cabin door,
And the tune was pretty lively, and he played it o'er and o'er;
And the stranger sat a.-list'ning and a-wond'ring what to do,
As he fiddled and he fiddled, but he never played it through."

Bo was very fond of music, and as Horatio drew from the
strings the mellow strains of "The Arkansaw Traveller" he for
got that both he and the Bear were hungry. He could dance
very well, and was just about to do so as the Bear paused.

"Why don't you play the rest of that tune, Horatio?" he
asked, anxiously.

"Same reason the old man didn't !" growled the Bear, still
humming the air,

"Oh, raddy daddy dum daddy dum dum dum

"Why!" continued Bo, "that's funny!"

"Is it?" snorted Horatio; "I never thought so!

"Then the stranger asked the fiddler 'Won't you play the rest for me?'
'Don't know it,' says the fiddler, 'Play it for yourself!' says he "

Maybe you can do what the stranger did, Bosephus maybe you
can play it yourself, eh?" grunted the huge animal, pausing and
glowering at the little boy.

"Oh, no, sir I I that is, sir, I can only wh-whistle or
s-sing it!" trembled Bo.


"Y-yes, sir. I "

"You can sing it?" shouted the Bear, joyfully, and for once
forgetting to fiddle. "You don't say so!"

The Arkansaw Bear 15

"Why, of course!" laughed Bo; "everybody in Arkansaw
can do that. It goes this way:

"Then the stranger took the fiddle, with a ridy-diddle-diddle,
And the strings began to jingle at the tingle of the bow,

While the old man sat and listened, and his eyes with pleasure glistened,
As he shouted 'Hallelujah! And hurray for Joe!' "

When Bo had finished, Horatio stood perfectly still for
some moments in astonishment and admiration. Then he came
up close to the little boy.

"Look here, Bo/' he said, "if you'll teach me to play and
sing that tune, we'll forget all about that sort o' personal supper
I was planning on, and I'll take you home all in one piece. And
anything you want to know I'll tell you, and anything I've got,
except the fiddle, is yours. Furthermore, you can call me Ratio,
too, see?

'Oh, ridy-diddy, diddy-diddy

how does it go? Give me a start, please."

Bo brightened up at once. He liked to teach things im
mensely, and especially to ask questions.

"Why, of course, Ratio," he said, condescendingly; "I shall
be most happy. And I can make up poetry, too. Ready,
now :

"I am glad to be the teacher of this kind and gentle creature,
Who can play upon the fiddle in a "

"Wait, Bo! wait till I catch up!" cried Horatio, excitedly.

"Hold on, Ratio. I want to ask a question!"

1 6 The Arkansaw Bear

"All right! Fire away! I couldn't get any further any

"Well," said Bo, "I want to know how you ever learned to
play the fiddle."

Horatio did not reply at first, but closed his eyes reflec
tively and drew the bow across the string softly.

"Oh, raddy daddy dum daddy dum dum dum

"I took a course of lessons," he said, presently, "but it is a long
story, and some of it is not pleasant. I think we had better go
on with the music now:

"Oh, there was a little boy and his name was Bo,
Went out into the woods when the moon was low,
And he met an Old Bear who was hungry for a snack,
And his folks are still awaiting for Bosephus to come back."

"Go right on with the rest of it," said Bo, hastily.

"For the boy became the teacher of this kind and gentle creature,
Who can play upon the fiddle in a very skilful way."

"But I say, Ratio," interrupted Bo again, "how did it come
you never learned to play the second part of that tune?"

Horatio scowled fiercely at first, and then once more grew
quite pensive. He played listlessly as he replied :

"Ah," he said, "my teacher was was unfortunate. He
taught me to play the first part of that tune. He would have
taught me the rest of it if he had had time."

Horatio drew the bow lightly across the strings and began
to sing, in a far-away voice:

"Oh, there was an old man, and his name was Jim,

And he had a pet bear who was fond of him;

But the man was very cruel and abusive to his pet,

And one day his people missed him, and they haven't found him yet."

"Oh!" said Bo; "and w-what happened, Horatio?"

Horatio paused and dashed away a tear.

"It happened in a lonely place," he said, chewing reflective-

The Arkansaw Bear 17

ly, "a lonely place in the woods, like this. We were both of us
tired and hungry and he grew impatient and beat me. He also
spoke of my parents with disrespect, and in the excitement that
followed he died."

"Oh!" said Bo.

"Yes," repeated Horatio, "he died. He was such a nice
man such a nice fat Italian man, and so good while while he

"Oh!" said Bo.

Horatio sighed.

"His death quite took away my appetite," he mused. "I
often miss him now, and long for some one to take his place. I
kept this fiddle, though, and he might have been teaching me the
second part of that tune on it now if his people hadn't missed
him that is, if he hadn't been impatient, I mean."

"Oh, Ratio!" said Bo, "I will teach you the tune all
through! And I will never be the least bit impatient or or
excited. Are you ready to begin, Ratio?"

"All ready! Play."

"Oh, it's fine to be the teacher of a kind and gentle creature
WTio can play upon the fiddle in a very skilful way,
And I'll never, never grieve him, and I'll never, never leave him,
Till I hear the rooster crowing for the break of day."

"That was very nice, Bo, very nice indeed!" exclaimed
Horatio, as they finished. "Now, I am going to tell you a se

"Oh!" said Bo.

"I have a plan. It is to start a colony for the education and
improvement of wild bears. But first I am going to travel and
see the world. I have lived mostly with men and know a good
deal of their taste tastes, I mean and have already travelled
in some of the States. After my friend, the Italian, was gone, I
tried to carry out his plans and conduct our business alone. But

1 8 The Arkansaw Bear

I could only play the first part of that tune, and the people
wouldn't stand it. They drove me away with guns and clubs.
So I came back to the woods to practice and learn the rest of
that music. My gymnastics are better watch me."

Horatio handed Bo his fiddle and began a most wonderful
performance. He stood on his head, walked on his hands,
danced on two feet, three feet, and all fours. Then he began
and turned somersaults innumerable. Bo was delighted.

"It wasn't because you couldn't play and perform well
enough!" he cried, excitedly. "It was because you went alone,
and they thought you were a crazy, wild bear. If I could go
along with you we could travel together over the whole world
and make a fortune. Then we could buy a big swamp and start
your colony. What do you say, Ratio? I am a charity boy, and
have no home anyway! We can make a fortune and see the

At first Ratio did not say anything. Then he seized Bo in
his arms and hugged him till the boy thought his time had come.
The Bear put him down and held him off at arm's length, joy

"Say!" he shouted. "Why, I say that you are a boy after
my own heart! We'll start at once! I'll take you to a place to
night where there are lots of blackberries and honey, and to
morrow we will set forth on our travels. Here's my hand as a
guarantee of safety as long as you keep your agreement. You
mean to do so, don't you?"

"Oh, yes," said Bo.

"And now for camp. We can play and sing as we go."

As the little boy took Horatio's big paw he ceased to be
even the least bit afraid. He had at last found a strong friend,
and was going forth into the big world. He had never been so
happy in his life before.

The Arkansaw Bear 19

"All right, Ratio!" he shouted. "One, two, three, play!"
And Ratio gave the bow a long, joyous scrape across the
strings, and thus they began their life together Bosephus whis
tling and the Bear playing and singing with all his might the
fascinating strains of "The Arkansaw Traveller":

"Oh, there was a little boy and his name was Bo,

Went out into the woods when the moon was low,

And he hadn't had his supper and his way he didn't know,

So he didn't have a bite to eat nor any place to go.

Then he heard the ridy-diddle of Horatio and his fiddle,

And his knees began to tremble as he saw him standing there;

Now they'll never, never sever, and they'll travel on forever

Bosephus, and the fiddle, and the Old Black Bear."



"Oh, 'twas down in the woods of the Arkansaw
I met an Old Bear with a very nimble paw;

He could dance and he could fiddle at the only tune he knew,
And he fiddled and he fiddled, but he never played it through."


O was awake first, and Horatio still lay sound asleep.
As the boy paused the Bear opened one eye sleepily
and reached lazily toward his fiddle, but dropped asleep
again before his paw touched it. They had found a
very cosy place in a big heap of dry leaves under some spread
ing branches, and Horatio, though fond of music, was still more
fond of his morning nap. Bosephus looked at him a moment
and began singing again, in the same strain :

"Then there came a little boy who could whistle all the tune,
And he whistled and he sang it by the rising of the moon;
And he whistled and he whistled, and he sang it o'er and o'er,
Till Horatio learned the music he had never learned before."

The Bear opened the other eye. and once more reached for
his fiddle. This time he got hold of it, but before his other paw
touched the bow he was asleep again. Bo waited a moment.
Then he suddenly began singing to the other part of the tune:

The Arkansaw Bear 21

"Yes, he learned it all so neatly and he played it all so sweetly
That he fell in love completely with the boy without a home;

And he said. 'No matter whether it is dark or sunny weather
We will travel on together till the cows come home.' "

Before Bosephus finished the first two lines of this strain
Horatio was sitting up straight and fiddling for dear life.

"Once more, Bo, once more!" he shouted as they finished.

They repeated the music, and Horatio turned two hand
springs without stopping.

"Now," he said, "we will go forth and conquer the world."

"I could conquer some breakfast first," said Bo.

"Do you like roasting ears?"

"Oh, yes," said Bo.

"Well, I have an interest in a little patch near here that
is, I take an interest, I should say, and you can take part of mine
or one of your own if you prefer. It really doesn't make any
difference which you do just so you take it before the man that
planted it is up."

"Why," exclaimed the boy as they came out into a little
clearing, "that is old Zack Todd's field!"

"It is, is it? Well, how did old Zack Todd get it, I'd like to

"Why why I don't know," answered Bo, puzzled.

"Of course not," said the Bear. "And now, Bosephus, let
me tell you something. The bears owned that field long before
old Zack Todd was ever thought of. We're just renting it to
him on shares. This is rent day. We don't need to wake Zack


The Arkansaw Bear 23

up. You get over the fence and hand me a few of the best ears
you can get quick and handy, and you might bring one of those
watermelons I see in the corn there, and we'll find a quiet place
that I know of and eat it."

Bo hopped lightly over the rail fence, and, gathering an
armful of green corn, handed it to Horatio. Then he turned to
select a melon.

"Has Zack Todd got a gun, Bosephus?" asked the Bear.

"Yes, sir-ee. The best gun in Arkansaw, and he's a dead
shot with it."

"Oh, he is. Well, maybe you better not be quite so slow
picking- out that melon. Just take the first big one you see and
come on."

"Why, Zack wouldn't care for us collecting rent, would he?"

"Well, I don't kniow. You see, some folks are peculiar
that way. Zack might forget it was rent day, and a man with a
bad memory and a good gun can't be trusted. Especially when
he's a dead shot. There, that one will do. Never mind about
his receipt we'll mail it to him."

Bo scrambled back over the fence with the melon and has
tened as fast as he could after Horatio, who was already moving
across the clearing with his violin under one arm and the green
ears under the other.

"Wait, Ratio," called the little boy. "This melon is heavy."

"Is that a long range gun, Bo?" called back the Bear.

"Carries a mile and a half."

"Can't you move up a little faster, Bo? I'm afraid, after all,
that melon is bigger than we needed."

The boy was fat and he panted after his huge companion.

Suddenly there was a sharp report, and Bosephus saw a lit
tle tuft of fur fly from one of his companion's ears. Horatio
dodged frantically and dropped part of his corn.


The Arkansaw Bear 25

"Run zigzag, Bo!" he called, "and don't drop the melon.
Run zigzag. He can't hit you so well then," and Horatio him
self began such a performance of running first one way and
then the other that Bo was almost obliged to laugh in spite of
their peril.

"Is this what you call conquering the world, Ratio?"
Then, as he followed the Bear's example, he caught a backward
glimpse out of the corner of his eye.

"Oh, Ratio,'' he called, "the whole family is after us. Zack
Todd, and old Mis' Todd, and Jim, and the girls."

"How many times does that gun shoot?"

"Only once without loading."

"Muzzle loader?"

"Yep," panted Bo. "Old style."

"Good! Hold on to that melon. We'll get to the woods

But Horatio was mistaken, for just as they dashed into the
edge of the timber, with the pursuers getting closer every mo
ment, right in front of them was a high barbed-wire fence which
the Todd family had built around the clearing but a few days
before. The Bear dropped his corn, and the boy carefully, but
with some haste, put down the melon. Then they turned. The
Todd family was just entering the woods old Zack and the
gun in front. He had loaded it and was putting on the cap as
he ran.

"What shall we do, Bo, what shall we do now?" groaned

The situation was indeed desperate. Their pursuers were
upon them, and in a moment more the deadly gun would be
levelled. Suddenly a bright thought occurred to Bo.

"I know," he shouted; "dance! Horatio! dance!"


The Arkansaw Bear


Horatio still had his fiddle under his arm. He threw it into
position and ran the bow over the strings. In a second more he
was playing and dancing, and Bo was singing as though it were
a matter of life and death, which indeed it was:

"Oh, there was a fine man and a mighty fine gun

And a Bear that played the fiddle and a boy that couldn't run.

And the boy was named Bosephus and Horatio the Bear,
And they couldn't find a bite to eat for breakfast anywhere."

The Todd family stood still at this unexpected perform^
ance and stared at the two musicians. Old man Todd leaned
his gun against a tree.

"Now they couldn't buy their breakfast for their money all was spent,

So they dropped into a cornfield to collect a little rent;

But they only took a melon and an ear of corn or so,

Aaid were going off to eat them where the butter blossoms grow."

The Todd family were falling into the swing of the music.
Old Mis' Todd and the girls were swaying back and forth and
the men were beating time with their feet. Suddenly Bosephus
changed to the second part of the tune.

"But the old man got up early with a temper rather surly,

And he chased them with his rifle and to catch them he was bound;

Till he heard the ridy-diddle of Horatio and his fiddle,

Then he shouted, 'Hallelujah, girls, and all hands 'round!' "

The first line of this had started the Todd family. Old
Zack swung old Mis' Todd, and Jim swung the girls. Then all

28 The Arkansaw Bear

joined hands and circled to the left. They circled around Bo-
sephus and Horatio, who kept on with the music, faster and
faster. Then there was a grand right and left and balance all
every one for himself until they were breathless and could
dance no more. Horatio stopped fiddling and when old man
Todd could catch his breath he said to Bo :

"Look a-here; that Bear of yours is a whole show by him
self, and you're another. Anybody that can play and sing like
that can have anything I've got. There's my house and there's
my cornfield; help yourselves."

Bo thanked him and said that the corn and the melon al
ready selected would do for the time. To oblige them, how
ever, he would take up a modest collection. He passed his hat
and received a silver twenty-five cent piece, a spool of thread
with a needle in it, a one-bladed jack-knife and two candy hearts
with mottoes on them these last being from the girls, who
blushed and giggled as they contributed. Then he said good-
by, and the Todd family showed them a gate that led into the
thick woods. As the friends passed out of sight and hearing
Bosephus paused and waved his handkerchief to the girls. A
little later Horatio turned to him and said, impressively:

"That is what I call conquering the world, Bosephus. We
began a little sooner and more abruptly than I had expected,
but it was not badly done, and, all things considered, you did
your part very well, Bosephus; very well indeed."



"Blossom on the bough and bird on the limb
Old Black Bear sits a-grinning at him;


Sawing on his fiddle and a-grinning at the jay
Grinning as he saws the only tune that he can play."

ORATIO leaned back against the tree and played
lazily. Bosephus lay stretched full length on the
leaves, following idly with any words that happened to
fit the strain. A blue jay just over their heads bobbed

up and down on a limber branch, waiting for them to go. The

Bear took up the song as the boy paused:

"Boy on the bank and bird on the tree
Bird keeps a-bobbing and a-blinking at me;
Bobbing and a-blinking, and a-waiting for a bite
Hasn't had a thing to eat since late last night."

"I say, Ratio," interrupted Bo. "Suppose we move on and
give Mr. Jay Bird a chance?"

Horatio grunted and rose heavily. After their adventure
with the Todd family they had come to a pleasant spot in the
woods by a clear stream of water. Bo, who had some matches
in his pocket, had kindled a fire and roasted some of the corn,
much to the disgust of Horatio, who disliked fire and asked him
why he didn't roast the watermelon, too, while he was about it.

30 The Arkansaw Bear

Then they had eaten their breakfast together and taken a brief
rest before setting forth again on their travels. A jay bird was
waiting to peck the gnawed ears and melon rinds. He stared at
the strange pair as they strolled away through the trees/ the
Bear continuing his favorite melody.

"Ratio," said Bo, pausing suddenly, "what is that I hear
scurrying through the bushes every now and then?"

"Friends of mine, likely."

"Friends! What friends?"

"Oh, everything, most. Wild cats, wolves, foxes and a few
wild bears, maybe."

"Wildcats! Bears! Wolves!"

"Why, yes. Often when I play in the moonlight they come
out and dance for me."

"Oh!" said Bo.

' "I have them all dancing together, sometimes. I'll have
them dance for you before long."

"Oh, Ratio, will you?"

"Yes. It's a lot of fun, but there's no money in it, and
that's what we're after now, Bo. We're going to buy that
swamp, you remember, and start that bear colony."

Bosephus was about to reply when Horatio paused and lis
tened. There was the distant sound of dogs barking.

"Hello!" said Bo. "We're coming to> somewhere. Now
we'll give our first regular performance. Come on, Ratio!"

Horatio hesitated.

"How many dogs do you suppose there are, Bo?" he asked

"About a dozen, I should think, big and little."

"Little dogs, Bo? Little snapping dogs?"

"That's what it sounds like, and some hounds and a big dog
or two. You don't mind dogs, do you?"



32 The Arkansaw Bear

"Oh, no, not in the least but it's most too soon after
breakfast to give a performance, and besides, all that noise
would spoil the music."

But the little boy, who still had in his pocket the two' candy
hearts that had been given to him by the Todd girls, walked
ahead proudly.

"You trust to me!" he said, flourishing a large stick. "I'll
stop their noise pretty quick. I'm not afraid of dogs!"

The Bear followed some steps behind, looking ahead warily.

"I'm not afraid, either, you know," he said, anxiously.
"Only when there are so many of them they get me mixed up
on my notes and one of them once had the ill manners to nip
quite a piece out of my left hind leg."

Presently they came into an open space and plump upon a
little crossroads village. A gang of dogs gambolled upon the

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Online LibraryAlbert Bigelow PaineThe Arkansaw bear; a tale of fanciful adventure → online text (page 1 of 5)