214 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
two terrible howls, mingled with the barking of the dogs. A moment after, the boy reappeared ; he was running at full speed, his face deadly pale, and he cried out in a voice stifled with fear:
' Bears I bears ! they are following me,' and fell into my arms more dead than alive. I had not time to reassure him, and I felt myself seized with a sudden shiver, as an enormous bear appeared, immediately followed by a second.
' Courage, boys,' was all I could say. I seized my gun, and prepared to receive the enemy. Fritz did the same, and, with a courage and coolness far above his years, he took his place by my side. Jack also took his gun, but remained in the rear, while Ernest, who had no arms—for in his fright he had let his gun fall—took to his heels and ran away.
But our dogs had already flown at the bears. We fired together, and, although our shots did not bring down the enemy, they nevertheless told well. One of the bears had a jaw broken, the other a shoulder fractured. Our faithful dogs did prodigies of valour. They fought most desperately, rolling in the dust with their enemies. We would have fired again, but we were afraid that we should kill the dogs. So we advanced nearer, and, at about