|This traditional ballad was included in a collection by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He introduced it as follows:
I am permitted to enrich my chapter by addition of an anecdote of pure courage from real life, as narrated in a ballad by a lady to whom all the particulars of the facts are exactly known.
- Men have done brave deeds,
- And bards have sung them well:
- I of good George Nidiver
- Now the tale will tell.
- In Californian mountains
- A hunter bold was he:
- Keen his eye and sure his aim
- As any you should see.
- A little Indian boy
- Followed him everywhere,
- Eager to share the hunter's joy,
- The hunter's meal to share.
- And when the bird or deer
- Fell by the hunter's skill,
- The boy was always near
- To help with right good will.
- One day as through the cleft
- Between two mountains steep,
- Shut in both right and left,
- Their questing way they keep,
- They see two grizzly bears
- With hunger fierce and fell
- Rush at them unawares
- Right down the narrow dell.
- The boy turned round with screams,
- And ran with terror wild;
- One of the pair of savage beasts
- Pursued the shrieking child.
- The hunter raised his gun, -
- He knew one charge was all, -
- And through the boy's pursuing foe
- He sent his only ball.
- The other on George Nidiver
- Came on with dreadful pace:
- The hunter stood unarmed,
- And met him face to face.
- I say unarmed he stood.
- Against those frightful paws
- The rifle butt, or club of wood,
- Could stand no more than straws.
- George Nidiver stood still
- And looked him in the face;
- The wild beast stopped amazed,
- Then came with slackening pace.
- Still firm the hunter stood,
- Although his heart beat high;
- Again the creature stopped,
- And gazed with wondering eye.
- The hunter met his gaze,
- Nor yet an inch gave way;
- The bear turned slowly round,
- And slowly moved away.
- What thoughts were in his mind
- It would be hard to spell:
- What thoughts were in George Nidiver
- I rather guess than tell.
- But sure that rifle's aim,
- Swift choice of generous part,
- Showed in its passing gleam
- The depths of a brave heart.