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THE WHITE, OR POLAR BEAR.
they wounded the dam, but not mortally. It would have drawn tears of pity from any but unfeeling minds, to have marked the affectionate concern expressed by this poor beast in the last moments of her expiring young-ones. Though she was herself dreadfully wounded, and could but just crawl to the place where they lay, she carried the lump of flesh she had fetched away, as she had done others before, tore it in pieces, and laid it before them; and, when she saw that they refused to eat, she laid her paws first upon one, and then upon the other, and endeavored to raise them up: all this while it was pitiful to hear her moan. When she found she could not stir them, she went off, and when she had got to some distance, she looked back and moaned. Finding this to no purpose, she returned, and, smelling round them, began to lick their wounds. She went off a second time as before; and, having crawled a few paces, looked again behind her, and for some time stood moaning. But still her cubs not rising to follow her, she returned to them again; and, with signs of inexpressible fondness, went round, pawing them and moaning. Finding at last that they were cold and lifeless, she raised her head towards the ship, and uttered a growl of despair, which the murderers returned with a volley of musket-balls. She fell between her cubs, and died licking their wouuds."
Mr. Hearne says that the males of this species are, at a certain time of the year, so much attached to their mates, that he has often seen one of them, when a female was killed, come and put his paws over her, and in this position suffer himself to be shot rather than quit her.
During the winter these animals retire and bed themselves deep in the snow, or under the fixed ice of some eminence; and here they pass, in a state of torpidity, the long and dismal Arctic night, and reappear only with the return of the sun.
The Polar Bear has a great dread of heat. An animal of this species described by Professor Pallas, would not stay in its house in the winter, although at Krasnojarsk in Siberia, where the climate is very cold; and it seemed to experience great pleasure in rolling itself on the snow. A Polar Bear that was kept in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, suffered excessively during the hot weather. The keepers, throughout the year, were obliged to throw upon it sixty or seventy pails of water a day, to refresh it. This animal was fed only with bread, of which it daily consumed no more than about six pounds, notwithstanding which it became very fat. It is not known to what age these animals live.
White Bears are sometimes found in Iceland; but not being natives of that island, they are supposed to float thither from the opposite coast of Greenland, on some of the huge masses of ice that are detached from those shores. After so long an abstinence as they must necessarily undergo in the voyage, they are reduced by hunger to attack even men, if they should come in their way. But Mr. Horrebow informs
that the natives are always able to escape their fury, if they can only throw in their way something to amuse them. A glove (he say:) is sufficient for this purpose; for the Bear will not stir till he has turned every finger of it inside out; and, as these animals are not very dexterous with their paws, this takes up some time, and in the mean while the person makes his escape.
Some writers have said, that the Grizzly Bear will run away if he comes across the scent of men. This, my informant, who is a practical man, strenuously denies, and states that the main is more likely to run away from the bear, than the bear from the man. The American Indians fear it so much, that a necklace of its claws, which may only be worn by the individual who destroyed the bear, is a decoration entitling the wearer to the highest honors. These formidable claws are five inches long, and cut like so many chisels, so that the Indian of former days, armed only with bow, spear, and knife, fully deserved honor, for overcoming so savage and powerful a brute. Since the introduction of fire-arms, the Grizzly Bear affords a rather easier victory, but even to one armed with all advantage of rifle and pistols, the fight is sure to be a severe one, for when the Bear is once wounded, there is no attempt to escape, but life is pitted against life. Before the hunter commences the struggle he must have considerable confidence in his presence of mind, for every one knows how the least tremor of hand or eye, causes a rifle ball to wander far from its intended path, and a ball that does not penetrate a vital part only serves to irritate the bear.
Sometimes, it is said, after a party of hunters have been combating one of these Bears, it is impossible to find four square inches of sound skin in the animal's body, a Wall through the brain, or beart, appear ing to be the only safety on the part of the hunter.
When a traveller is passing through a part of the country where he is likely to fall in with these animals, he provides himself with a
quantity of meat strongly impregnated with some perfume. If a Bear sees the traveller, and charges him, he throws down a small piece of his prepared meat. The bear stops and snuffs at it, and is dubious about it for some time, but at last finishes by eating it. During the time in which he is undecided, the traveller has gained considerable ground, and by a repetition of the same ruse, either tires the Bear out, or meets with a sufficient body of friends to render him independent of the animal.
It is rather singular that this Bear has the power of moving each claw separately, as we move our fingers. It is able to overcome and carry off the enormous Bison, and to dig a pit in which to bury it.
The length of the Glutton is three feet; exclusive of the tail, which measures about one foot. The top of the head, and the whole of the back, as well as the muzzle and feet, are of a blackish brown color. The sides are dusky, and the tail is the color of the body.
The most remarkable circumstance relative to the economy of these animals, is the stratagem which they adopt for the purpose of alluring and seizing upon their prey. We are informed that they climb into trees in the neighborhood of herds of deer, and carry along with them a considerable quantity of a kind of moss to which the deer are partial. As soon as any of the herd happens to approach the tree, the Glutton throws down the moss. If the deer stop to eat, the Glutton instantly darts upon its back; and, after fixing himself firmly between the horns, tears out its eyes: which torments the animal to such a degree, that either to end its torments, or to get rid of its cruel enemy, it strikes its head against the trees till it falls down dead. The Glutton divides the flesh of the deer into convenient portions, and conceals them in the earth for future provisions. When the voracious animal has once firmly fixed himself by the claws and teeth, it is impossible to remove him. In vain does the unfortunate stag seek for safety in flight: and if it do not kill itself, its enemy soon brings it to the ground by sucking its blood, and gradually devouring its body.
Gluttons feed also on hares, mice, birds, and even on putrid flesh; and it is absurdly asserted by the Norwegians, that they carry their voracity to such an extent, as to be obliged to relieve themselves by squeezing their over-swollen bodies between two trees. If this creature seize a carcass, even bigger than himself, he will not desist from eating so long as there is a mouthful left.
When the Glutton is attacked, he makes a stout resistance; for, with his teeth, he will tear even the stock from a gun, or break in pieces the trap in which he is caught. Notwithstanding this, he 19
capable of being rendered tame, and of learning many entertaining tricks.
In a state of nature, he suffers men to approach him without ex. hibiting the least signs of fear, and even without any apparent wish to avoid them. This may be the effect of living in desert countries; generally out of the sight, and removed from the attacks of men.
The Glutton is hunted for the sake of his skin, which is very valuable. The Kamtschadales so much esteem it, that they say the heavenly beings wear garnients made of no other fur than this; and they would describe a man as most richly attired, if he had on the skin of a Glutton. The women ornament their hair with the white paws of this animal, which they esteem an elegant addition to their dress.
Gluttons are found in all the countries bordering upon the northern ocean. They are also natives of various parts of Canada, and of the country around Hudson's Bay.
The Wolverine resembles the Wolf in size, and the Glutton in the figure of its head. Both the upper and under parts of the body are of a reddish brown color: the sides are yellowish brown; and a band of this color crosses the back near the tail, which is long and of a chesnut color. The face is black. The legs are strong, thick, short, and black; and the soles of the feet are covered with hair.
These animals are not uncommon in the northern regions of America.
The pace of this animal is very slow; but their sagacity, strength, and acute scent, make to them ample amends for this defect. They burrow in the ground; and are said to be extremely fierce and savage. They are also possessed of great courage and resolution. A Wolverine has been known to seize on a deer that an Indian had killed; and though the Indian advanced within twenty yards, he still refused to abandon his capture, and even suffered himself to be shot upon the body of the fallen animal. Wolverines have also been known to take a deer from a wolf before the latter had time to begin