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The Bear Cubs

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A female bear, with two cubs, approached near a whaler, and was shot. The
cubs not attempting to escape, were taken alive. These animals, though at
first evidently very unhappy, became at length in some measure reconciled
to their situation, and being tolerably tame, were allowed occasionally to
go at large about the deck. While the ship was moored to a floe, a few
days after they were taken, one of them having a rope fastened round his
neck, was thrown overboard. It immediately swam to the ice, got upon it,
and attempted to escape. Finding itself, however, detained by the rope, it
endeavoured to disengage itself in the following ingenious way. Near the
edge of the floe was a crack in the ice of considerable length, but only
eighteen inches or two feet wide, and three or four feet deep. To this
spot the bear turned; and when, on crossing the chasm, the bight of the
rope fell into it, he placed himself across the opening; then suspending
himself by his hind feet, with a leg on each side, he dropped his head and
most part of his body into the chasm; and with a foot applied to each side
of the neck, attempted for some minutes to push the rope over his head.
Finding this scheme ineffectual, he removed to the main ice, and running
with great impetuosity from the ship, gave a remarkable pull on the rope;
then going backward a few steps, he repeated the jerk. At length, after
repeated attempts to escape this way, every failure of which he announced
by a significant growl, he yielded himself to his hard necessity, and lay
down on the ice in angry and sullen silence.





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