But it was to be a long time before I found it. I was now a solitary bear, with my own life to live and my own way to make in the world, with no one to look to for guidance and no one to help me if I needed help; but many regarded me as an enemy, and would have rejoiced if I were killed.
In those first days I thought of the surly solitary bear who had taken our home while we were away, and whom I had vowed some day to punish; and I began to understand in some measure why he was so bad-tempered. If we had met then, I almost believe I would have tried to make friends with him.
I have said that many animals would have rejoiced had I been killed. This is not because bears are the enemies of other wild things, for we really kill very little except beetles and other insects, frogs and lizards, and little things like mice and chipmunks. We are not as the wolves, the coyotes, the pumas, or the weasels, which live on the lives of other animals, and which every other thing in the woods regards as its sworn foe. Still, smaller animals are mostly afraid of us, and the carcase of a dead bear means a feast for a number of hungry things. If a bear cannot defend his own life, he will have no friends to do it for him; and while, as I have said before, a full-grown bear in the mountains has no need to fear any living thing, man always excepted, in stand-up fight, it is none the less necessary to be always on one’s guard The meresmell of a berry-patch at theend ofsummer.
In my case fear had nothing to do with my hatred of lonexxxxss. Even the thought of man himself gave me no uneasiness. I was sure that no human beings were as yet within many miles of my home, and I knew that I should always have abundant warning of their coming. Moreover, I already knew man. He was not to me the thing of terror and mystery that he had been a year ago, or that he still was to most of the forest folk. I had cause enough, it is true, to know how dangerous and how savagely cruel he was, and for that I hated him. But I had also seen enough of him to have a contempt for his blindness and his lack of the sense of scent. Had I not again and again, when in the town, dodged round the corner of a building, and waited while he passed a few yards away, or stood immovable in the dark
, and looked straight at him while he went by utterly unconscious that I was near? Nothing could live in the forest for a week with no more eyesight, scent, or hearing than a man possesses, and without his thunder-stick he would be as helpless as a lame deer. All this I understood, and was not afraid that, if our paths should cross again, I should not be well able to take care of myself.