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A Winter's Tale

A WINTER'S TALE by Ian Thomson

Winter arrived in the Montana highlands like a grizzly rampaging through a tent. Jack Walker had estimated another three weeks of panning for gold in the small, richly laden stream before he would be forced down, through the pass to the valley town but the winter of 1874 had other ideas. That first storm closed the pass and Jack knew he was isolated for the next two months. A check on his provisions showed a shortfall of two weeks that would be hard to overcome, as the local deer had already descended to the valley floor.

Six weeks later and Jack was in crisis. His food had run out and he now had to decide whether to eat his mule, in the small stable attached to the cabin, or find some animal to shoot and so far he had no luck. He missed his old Alsatian, Max, his long - time companion who had not survived an encounter with a timber wolf that summer. Jack could have shot the wolf after the fight, but was too upset at the death of his dog. He still recalled the yellow - eyed stare the wolf had given him as it walked away, licking its wounds. It had turned round at the forest edge and given a mournful howl. Jack was certain he had seen the beast several times since.

Jack decided to have one last attempt at hunting, so walked round the cabin to the stable. He left his winchester leaning against the cabin door and scratched the mule's chin, trying not to think of meat.
His heart rate was dramatically increased by the harsh roar of a grizzly bear and the crash of his cabin door as it was ripped from its hinges. Jack moved away from the stable and saw the origin of the noise. A grizzly bear, standing at least eight foot to the massive shoulders. The grizzly also saw Jack. With his rifle lying beside the demolished door, Jack had only his Texas toothpick (his Bowie knife) to use in his defence. Even the 18 inch blade would be useless against a grizzly. He had to get his rifle.

Jack decided on a surprise attack, his only chance. The bear, who should have been hibernating but had been caught out by the early snow, roared up to his full height as Jack ran towards it, shouting and waving his knife. Jack knew he was doomed, but as the bear drew back a mighty paw to crush Jack's head a grey streak ran between them and leapt on to the bear's shoulders biting at its neck.
The bear then spun around, trying to get rid of this new aggressor and giving Jack time to get the rifle and empty the magazine into the monster.

The wolf lay panting beside the bear's body, blood flowing from terrible wounds caused by the bear's claws. Jack knelt beside the wolf, still trying to make sense of what had happened. The wolf had saved him and the bear would provide all the meat he could eat. On the point of death the wolf raised its head and gave a mournful howl - this was echoed by a higher pitched howl from the forest edge as two furry wolf cubs made an appearance. They hesitantly approached Jack then timidly licked his hand.......


The local park ranger swung by later that day and fell over the bear's body. Our boy, Jack, got six months for killing a protected species. Glad you enjoyed the read. The moral is ................... Look for the BOOM BOOM BEAR NECESSITIES, THE SIMPLE BEAR NECESSITIES etc. etc.


author comment

Ian, I loved this story...
Thank you for posting it.


I'm really pleased you liked it, as I like telling stories. This one was probably a mixture of "Dances with Wolves" and "Seven brides for Seven Brothers" lol. I guess he could get into the town with his wolf cubs (Plenty of fight material with the local hoodlums) and meet the love of his life etc. etc.


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