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- The Rover Boys on the Ocean - 6/38 -
"Be careful of yourself!" warned Dick; "That bear looks as if he wasn't to be trifled with."
But Tom did not heed him, his whole mind being bent on having a laugh at the expense of the Italian and his animals. Going around to the kitchen of the hotel, he procured a couple of sugar cakes, pierced them with pinholes, and filled them up with pepper.
When he returned he found that a crowd had gathered and the Italian was passing around the hat. While Sam and Dick contributed several cents, Tom gave the bear one bun and divided the other between the two monkeys.
"Cheep! cheep!" went the monkeys, as if highly pleased.
"You're right, they are cheap," grinned Tom. "Hope you like the flavor."
The monkeys began to eat ravenously, for they were nearly starved. But they had not swallowed many mouthfuls before they noticed something wrong. Then one threw his bun at Tom in a rage. A second later the other monkey leaped back on the bear's head and began to dance and scratch wildly, in the meanwhile scattering the bun crumbs in all directions.
"Hi! hi! whata you do to de monks?" demanded the Italian. "You letta de monks alone!"
"I'm not touching, the monks," replied Torn, and slipped out of sight in the crowd.
By this time the bear had swallowed the larger portion of the bun given to him. It was the more peppery of the two, and it brought tears to the beast's eyes. With a roar of rage he, turned and shook the monkey from his head and leaped away from his keeper, dragging his chain after him.
The monkeys were evidently not used to seeing the bear in an ugly mood, and at once they sought safety by getting out of his reach. One leaped into a tree and ran like a cat to the top, while the second pounced on the shoulder of an elderly damsel, who looked exactly what she was, a hot-tempered old maid.
"Oh, dear!" screamed the elderly damsel. "Take the horrid thing off! Take it off this minute!"
"Come here, Jocko!" roared the Italian. "Come, Jocko!" and he held out his hands.
But Jocko had no intention of coming. Instead he clung the closer, his two forefeet in the lady's hair. The hair was largely false, and all of a sudden a long switch came loose and fell to the ground.
At this the damsel screeched at the top of her lungs and, caught at the hair. The monkey cried, too, in concert, and then a young man rushed in to the rescue. But Jocko's blood was up, and, leaping to the young man's shoulder, he tore off his straw hat and began to pull it to bits. Then, with the hat still in his possession, he made a leap to the tree and joined his brother at the top.
By this time the uproar was general, and it seemed to anger the bear still more. He had been rushing over the lawn, upsetting easy chairs and benches, but now he charged straight for the crowd.
"Look out for the bear!"
"The beast is going mad and will chew somebody up!"
"Shoot him, somebody, before we are all killed!"
Such were some of the cries which rang out. The Italian turned pale with anger and alarm.
"No shootta Marcus!" he cried. "No shootta heem. He de goodda bear!"
"Then catch him!" put in the proprietor of the hotel. "Catch him and tie him up."
But this the Italian could not do, and when the bear headed for him he fan as hard as anybody present. Around and around the grounds fled the people, some rushing for the, hotel and the others to the stables and to a large summer house. The bear made first for one and then another, but at last halted in front of the stable, which now contained the Rover boys, two ladies and an elderly man, and two colored hostlers.
"Shut the doors!" cried Dick, but his words were unnecessary, for the colored men were already closing them. The bar had scarcely been dropped into place when the bear hurled himself with all force against the barrier.
"He is going to break in the door!" cried one of the ladies.
"Let us go upstairs," said the elderly gentleman, and lost no time in leading the way.
There was a back door to close, and one of the negroes started for this. But just as he got close to the door he saw the bear coming, and, uttering a wild yell, he too made for the stairs.
Tom was close at hand, and it must be confessed that he felt thoroughly sorry over what he had done. "I'm responsible for all of it," he groaned. Then, as the bear stepped close to the back door, he got behind the barrier and tried to shove it shut.
The result was a surprise for both boy and bear, for as the beast made a leap the edge of the door caught him, and in a twinkle the animal was held fast by the neck between the door and its frame.
A NEVER-TO-BE-FORGOTTEN SWIM
"I've got him fast! Help! Help!"
"Tom's caught the bear!" shouted Sam. "Can you hold him, Tom?"
"I guess I can if some of you will help me!" panted the youth. "Hurry up!"
Sam and Dick were on the stairs, but now both ran to their brother's assistance, and all three pushed upon the door with all of their strength.
The barrier groaned and creaked and it looked as if at any instant it would burst from its hinges.
"Gracious, we can't hold him very long!" gasped Sam. "Can't somebody hit the animal with a club?"
"I reckon I can do dat!" shouted one of the hostlers, and caught up an ax-handle which stood in one corner. As he approached the bear, the beast uttered a roar of commingled rage and fear, and this was so terrorizing to the colored man that he dropped the ax-handle and ran for his very life.
"Come back here!" cried Tom.
"Can't do it, boss; he's gwine ter chew me up!" howled the hostler.
"Hold the door -- I'll hit him," put in Sam and he picked up the ax-handle. Stepping forward, struck out heavily, and the bear dropped in a completely dazed and more than half choked to death.
By this time the Italian was again at hand. In one pocket he carried a thin but strong line, in a twinkle he had tied one fore and one leg together, so that the bear, when he got again, could do little but hobble along. Then another pocket he drew a leather muzzle, which he buckled over the beast's head. But bear had had all of the ugliness knocked out him and was once more as docile as ever.
"Tom," whispered Dick. "I guess the best we can do is to get out of this place. If folks discover the trick you played, they'll mob you."
"I guess you're right. But who'll settle our bill?"
"I'll do that," said Sam. "They know I wasn't near the bear when the rumpus started."
So it was agreed, and while Tom and Dick left hotel grounds Sam strolled into the office to pay their bill. It was some time before the clerk came to wait on him.
"Say, I believe, your brother started this kick-up," observed the clerk.
"What?" demanded Sam, in pretended astonishment.
"I say, I think he started this kick-up."
"The one with the bear, of course."
"Why, my brothers helped to catch the beast."
"I know that; but one of 'em started it. What do you want?"
"I want to pay our bill. How much is it?"
"Going to leave?"
"Think you had better, eh?"
"We only hired our room until this noon." Sam drew himself up. "If you want your pay you be civil."
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