Albert Bigelow Paine.

The Arkansaw bear; a tale of fanciful adventure told in song and story online

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Online LibraryAlbert Bigelow PaineThe Arkansaw bear; a tale of fanciful adventure told in song and story → online text (page 1 of 5)
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Produced by David Edwards and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at Music by Linda
Cantoni(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The Internet Archive)

















Printed in the United States of America








I The Meeting of Bosephus and Horatio 11
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 111




[Illustration: Music]

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

[Illustration: Music]

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."

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

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 bright moonlight there, too, and as Bosephus took in the
situation 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 Bosephus.

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

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

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

"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 so."

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

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

"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."


"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 were.

"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 forgot 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,

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

"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!"

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

[Illustration: Music]

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

[Illustration: Music]

While the old man sat and listened, and his eyes with pleasure
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 immensely, 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. "Now!"

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

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

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

Horatio did not reply at first, but closed his eyes reflectively 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 reflectively, "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 lasted."

"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,

"All ready! Play."

"Oh, it's fine to be the teacher of a kind and gentle creature
Who 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 secret."

"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 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

"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 world!"

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, joyously.

"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.

"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 whistling 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."



[Illustration: Music]

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

[Illustration: Music]

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."

BO 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 spreading
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: -

[Illustration: Music]

"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;

[Illustration: Music]

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 handsprings without

"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 know."

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

[Illustration: "ONCE MORE, BO, ONCE MORE"]

"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 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 know. 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 hastened 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 little tuft of fur
fly from one of his companion's ears. Horatio dodged frantically and
dropped part of his corn.


"Run zigzag, Bo!" he called, "and don't drop the melon. Run zigzag. He
can't hit you so well then," and Horatio himself 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 yet."

But Horatio was mistaken, for just as they dashed into the edge of the
timber, with the pursuers getting closer every moment, 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 Horatio.

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!"

[Illustration: "DANCE! HORATIO, DANCE!"]

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: -

[Illustration: Music]

"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,

[Illustration: Music]

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 performance 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,
And 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

[Illustration: Music]

"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;

[Illustration: Music]

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 joined hands and circled
to the left. They circled around Bosephus 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 himself, 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 already selected
would do for the time. To oblige them, however, 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."



[Illustration: Music]

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

[Illustration: Music]

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

HORATIO 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. 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,

"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 listened. 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!"

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