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Whilst a ship on a voyage of discovery to the North Pole was locked in the
ice, one morning the man at the masthead reported that three bears were
making their way towards the ship. They had, no doubt, been invited by the
scent of some blubber of a sea-horse which the crew was burning on the ice
at the time of their approach. They proved to be a she bear and her two
cubs; but the cubs were nearly as large as the dam. They ran eagerly to
the fire, and drew out part of the flesh that remained unconsumed, and ate
it voraciously. The crew threw great lumps of the flesh which they had
still left upon the ice, which the old bear fetched away singly, laying
every lump before the cubs as she brought it, and dividing it, gave each a
share, reserving but a small portion to herself. As she was fetching away
the last piece, they shot both the cubs dead, and wounded the dam, but not
mortally. It would have drawn tears of pity from any but the most
unfeeling to have marked the affectionate concern of this poor animal in
the dying moments of her expiring young. Though sorely wounded, she
crawled to the place where they lay, carrying a lump of flesh she had just
fetched away, tore it in pieces, and laid it down before them; when she
saw that they refused to eat, she laid her paws first upon one, then upon
the other, and endeavoured to raise them up, making at the same time the
most pitiable moans. Finding she could not stir them, she went off, and
when she had got at some distance, looked back and moaned; and that not
availing to entice them away, she returned, and smelling round them, began
to lick their wounds. She went off a second time, and having crawled a few
paces, looked again behind her, and for some time stood moaning. But her
cubs not rising to follow her, she returned, and with signs of
inexpressible fondness went round them, pawing them successively. Finding
at last that they were cold and lifeless, she raised her head towards the
ship, and growled a curse upon the destroyers, which they returned with a
volley of musket-balls. She fell between her cubs, and died licking their
wounds.





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Viewed 1991