Harry Frye, the big, handsome Georgian, with his soft and beguiling “Gawga” accent, had a troublesome time fishing in the Rio Grande at the Lower Ranch one night.
To begin with, the evening was one without a moon, and even the stars seemed more remote and less helpful than usual. The willows and brush along the stream snagged person and tackle in veritable witchery. Even the river boulders seemed slipperier. Harry had finally established himself just short of midstream in a favorable fishing spot and was happily casting the special fly of the hour over the water. Aside from the sound of the rippling stream, the voice of a cow in the pasture as she spoke occasionally to her calf, and the lonely sound of a nighthawk going about his business, all was still. Harry was alone, as his fishing partner had gone at least a quarter of a mile away to do his fishing.
Suddenly, there came a loud and startling: “Plop! Plop! Plop!” It came from nearby; and the waters, in which Harry stood in frozen quietude, rippled noisily. Then, horrors! Something dark, solid and very much alive swam right between his legs and on downstream.
The thought of alligators did not help, because common sense discounted this – there couldn’t be “ ’gators” as far “nawth” as this! “But what kind of mountain boomah was it?” demanded our Harry upon his precipitate arrival at headquarters.
“Only a beaver,” Wallace answered; and, of course, that is exactly what it was. However, we agreed that the experience had been very hair-raising to Harry, and we all properly commiserated with him.
The very next afternoon, after a morning of successful fishing in the same portion of the river where the beaver had disturbed him the evening before, Harry decided naps were for the ladies and the old and decrepit, and drove over into the Clear Creek country. He said afterward that his experience with the beaver had aroused his curiosity; and there being a number of them in that area, with their numerous ponds and odd houses, he was desirous of obtaining more knowledge of the creatures.
As anticipated, he found the dams of the small lakes and their homes very interesting. Beaver dams are marvels of construction, with the surface neatly and compactly tamped by those same flat tails whose plopping on the water has startled many of us. He saw no beaver, of course, as they are nocturnal in their habits. After a while, he turned to other matters, which were – of all the alls! – two black bear cubs! Quite as aroused as he, they obeyed the teaching of their mother, who was not in sight, and immediately climbed a fair-sized aspen tree.
Harry was intrigued by the funny, fat lil’ “boogers” and began tossing small rocks at them, hoping to get them to come down from the tree. But they did not come, continuing to hold fast to their perches, their bright little shoe-button eyes fixed on this strange twolegged intruder.
This exciting episode, the second in less than twenty-four hours, was quite enough for Harry, who rushed back to the ranch and gave some fifteen or so of us in the kitchen his colorful version of his latest experience.
After he had gone to his cabin, we all looked at each other. Ray laughed and said: “That Harry! Run from a beaver and throw rocks at cub bear! If one of ’em had even squeaked, their momma’d soon have made mincemeat of the ‘son-of- Gawga’!”
For, of course, she had been in the bushes only a few feet away, watching the play.