MANY years ago, in the western part of the State of New York, a little orphan boy lived with his aunt, whom he dearly loved. That part of the country was then quite new, and the older settlers used to have some startling stories to tell about wild cats, panthers, and bears. 

Children are usually rather timid; and this little boy, whose name was George, because of the many stories he heard, got to be quite a coward; in fact, many persons much older than himself were troubled in the same way. 

When "little George," as he was generally called, was five or six years old, he had an adventure, which he will probably never forget. His Aunt Lottie, with whom he lived, was going to spend the night at a neighbor's, who lived two miles away, if you went round the road, but by going "cross lots," and through a piece of woods, the way might be made much shorter. 

It was in the autumn, and well toward night, when Aunt Lottie and little George started across the fields. 

They sped along as fast as possible, talking briskly all the time, so it would not seem so lonely. They had gone most of the way there, and were nearly through the "big woods," when it began to grow dark. With timid steps they hurried on, hoping to get into the clearing before it was really dark. They had nearly reached the edge of the woods, and were beginning to breathe easier, when lo! Right by the side of the path, near the fence, which they must climb, what did little George see but a great black bear. 

Now they were in a terrible fright indeed. Little George began to cry, and wanted to go home, but his aunt told him that would not do, for the bear would run and catch them before they got a quarter of the way through the woods. She then took the little boy by the hand, and started to go round the bear, but the old fellow seemed to turn his head, and eye them so sharply that she did not dare to go any farther. So she began to call out, 

"Shoo! Shoo!" as farmers talk to sheep, but the bear did not stir. She began to feel that the case was getting serious, as it grew darker all the time; and seizing a large stick, she moved a few steps toward the beast, striking the ground, and calling out as before; but there the bear staid, doing nothing but move his dark ears. Then little George got a stick too, and he and his aunt both charged upon the enemy, but still he did not stir. Finally they went up closer, striking the ground with their sticks, hoping thus to make him run; when lo! As they came near enough to see, their bear turned out to be a big black elm stump. 

A recent fire in the woods had blackened the outside of the stump, and certain little projections made the nose and ears; the rest of the picture their imagination had formed. And that was all there was to little George's black bear. 

But he learned a lesson from the adventure, and so may the children who read this story. Do not allow yourselves to be afraid to go up stairs, or down cellar, or anywhere else you are sent, lest you meet some frightful object; for nine times out of ten your "bear" will turn out like little George's big black stump.