Rose made Joseph his breakfast. She tried to do her chores earlier, because she needed to get to the creek to wash clothes. Her mind was busy thinking of ways to help Joseph feel better. The splashing of the water while she scrubbed the clothes blocked out any noise. A feeling came over her and little shivers shook her body.
Rose heard something; she stopped rinsing Joseph’s overalls. A frightening horror was coming toward her. She determined at that second she was going to die.
A large brown bear stopped and stood up on his back feet and then opened his large mouth. This was the largest, most vicious-looking creature she had ever read about. She had read that brown bears love to chase, and so she knew that she could not run.
Quickly but quietly, she moved into the water. Rose had been a tiny little girl when she first learned to swim. In the water, she was never afraid.
She could hear the bear coming fast. Rose submerged to the bottom and swam underwater as long as she could hold her breath. She came to the surface without splashing because she did not know where the bear was. He was nowhere in sight. Rose looked around and did not see it.
The first noise Rose heard was a heavy breathing sound, followed by a mean growl. Her clothes were dripping and felt heavy. Her first instinct was to hide, but when she turned her head the bear was already coming. The barn and corral were the closest buildings, but then the horses, cow, and chickens would be his spoil. Rose knew she could notget to the cabin before the bear overtook her. The only building she could possibly reach was the outhouse.
As she stepped in, her hand grabbed the door and pulled it upright. The door was sagging with the one hinge. She held onto it while bracing herself. Within two minutes, the bear was there. He sounded out of breath. He was making all sorts of cruel noises. This savage beast was not going to give up. Rose had read many stories about bears. She knew he would not eat her, but could tear her body apart.
The bear stood up on his back legs and put his weight against the outhouse. His claws were pushing and scratching on the boards over her head. The building began to squeak and vibrate with his weight. If he tipped it over, she had no chance at all to survive.
Her body was frozen with fear. Her hands felt numb and they were red from holding the door closed. Suddenly Rose heard the terrible sound of wood cracking and the bear’s paw broke a board. His paw, with large long black claws, was within inches of her arm.
He pulled his paw back. She heard a different sound coming from him. It was as if he were moaning. Rose looked toward the opening that the bear had made with his paw. On a board sticking up was blood. He had cut his paw open on the petrified boards.
Rose remained in the outhouse for some time, peeking out of the opening.
When she calmed down and worked up enough nerve, she opened the door slowly.
One foot at a time, she stepped out. The first thing she noticed was a small trail of blood leading away from Joseph’s homestead.
After Rose told Joseph about the brown bear, he was adamant that she learn to use a gun. Rose wanted to tell him that she knew already, but couldn’t. Joseph explained, The bear could have wandered out of the Colorodo mountains and probably was trying to find his way back.” Joseph hoped that they would never see it again. Rose knew she would carry the memory of the bear for the rest of her life.
Phyllis A. Collmann is a retired nurse from Northwest Iowa. She and her husband, Colin, have four children with grandchildren and great grandchildren galore. Phyllis and Colin have been married for nearly 60 years and they continue to live on their farm. She has created a series of pioneer stories and there are now eight books in the series.