Wednesday, June 18, 2008

She Killed The Bear



Miss Katie Didn't Show Fight Until She Had a Shade the Best of the Situation, but We'll Call Her Delay Generalship and Give Her Full Credit For the Victory.

Katie Rankin is a pretty 21-year-old schoolmistress in Cummings township, Lycoming county. She is also a heroine, as an adventure in which she was a leading character has proved. A 250 pound black bear was the other actor in the affair, and Katie's schoolhouse was the scene of combat. The structure in which pretty Miss Rankin conducts her school is located near the banks of Pine creek, in a sparsely settled district. Just back of the one story schoolhouse stretches a forest, up and across the mountain, which rises 500 feet or more. It is no uncommon thing to see bears or catamounts in these woods. The knowledge that there were wild beasts about caused Katie Rankin to carry a revolver, for her boarding place is fully half a mile distant from the schoolhouse. Diligent practice has made her a proficient markswoman.

One night snow fell in that locality to the depth of 20 inches. Next morning Miss Rankin started for her school, going quite early so that she could have the room warm before the pupils began to arrive. The task of trundling through the deep snow for a half mile was more than she had counted on, and when she arrived at the door of the little schoolhouse she was nearly fagged out. On opening the door she was surprised to find one of the windows in the rear of the room wide open. It had apparently been open all night, for the snow had drifted in.

Hurrying up the aisle to make fast the window, she was startled to see a big black bear lying on the floor close to the stove. She screamed, for she thought the form that of a tramp who had taken shelter in her schoolroom from the severe storm of the night before. She was about to flee when the black form raised up, and she was surprised still more to find it not a man, but a big black bear. Now, here was a predicament! Run she must. She sprang to the door; but, behold! in her hurry to get inside when she arrived, a minute before, she had failed to remove the key from the outside. The peculiar make of lock made it an impossibility to open the same on either side without the aid of the key after it had sprung shut, and thus was the now thoroughly alarmed girl made a prisoner, with a big black bear as a companion.

Old bruin sat up on his haunches and blinked at the terrified girl. It was evident that her screams had awakened him from a sound sleep, and that he was still drowsy was more than apparent from his lazy attitude. The bear had found the window of the schoolhouse open, and the aperture thus afforded being not more than three foot from the ground he easily got inside. That he had made himself at home was in evidence from the topsy turvy condition of affairs. A lunchbasket, left by one of the pupils, in which several extra pieces of cake remained, was on the floor empty. Books and maps and slates were thrown promiscuously about, and as the impertinent fellow sat looking at the timid little schoolma'am he seemed sorry for the disturbance he had caused in the schoolroom.

At last, having surveyed her to his entire satisfaction, bruin gave a loud grunt, showed two rows of teeth, then turned and shambled toward the open window. With his fore paws on the sill he looked back over his shoulder at Miss Rankin, who stood trembling at the door; then he raised his ponderous form and slid out into the snow. It was then that Miss Rankin bethought herself and rammed her hand into her coat pocket for the revolver. With this as a helpmate, and the bear on the outside of the building, all her bravery returned. She knew that bruin could not well get back if she barricaded the windows, and she did want to shoot a real, true bear so badly.

On going to the window she was surprised to find that the bear had not yet gone more than ten feet toward the wood. The snow was so deep and of such a feathery nature that it was next to impossible for the woolly coated creature to move. He first stood on his hind legs, and with his fore paws beat the snow from in front, but when he attempted to move forward he invariably tumbled headforemost into the snow, which at that point had drifted four feet high.

Miss Rankin judged that this was her chance. She did not stop to think that bears are not usually shot with a revolver. She watched bruin flounder in the snow and knew that he could not get back to her, even though the first few shots did no more than injure him. She waited until he stood upright, when she leveled the pistol at his head and fired. Simultaneous with the report of the firearm the bear jumped into the air several feet, then went rolling into the snowdrift. An instant later he was again on his feet, this time with his face toward the schoolhouse window. The sight of his pretty tormentor and the pain of the bullet wound in his head maddened the fellow, and his attempt to flounder through the snow back to the window was terrific.

Again Miss Rankin raised her pistol, this time taking aim for the bear's eye. The bullet went "home," and the bear fell again into the snowdrift. This time he was slow to rise, and before he accomplished this another bullet went plowing into his body, and he lay down to die.

The shooting at the schoolhouse was heard by those at a farmhouse just across the creek, and several of the men folks came hurrying through the snow, one of them carrying a gun. Upon arriving at the schoolhouse they were quickly acquainted with the situation.

The man with the gun made his way to where the bear lay and found that the beast was not dead. He raised his gun to fire the finishing charge, but was stopped before he could pull the trigger by Miss Rankin, who exclaimed, "Here, I want to kill that bear."

The man stepped back. Miss Rankin, from her position at the window, sent another bullet into the woolly mass that lay partly hidden in the snowdrift. That shot "fixed him," as one of the men said — when telling of the plucky girl's thrilling escapade.

Miss Rankin has had a rug made of the bearskin. It is an exceptionally fine one, and it will ever prove a ready reminder of the day that she was made prisoner in a country schoolhouse, with a wild beast for her only companion. — Pittsburg Dispatch.

An Embossed Shield

Figg — Suffrage is the shield that protects the American people.
Fogg — Yes, but a shield with too many bosses. — Boston Transcript.

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