THE LEGEND OF THE BEAR LAKE MONSTER
The waves splashed gently upon the shore and the full moon shone brightly upon Bear Lake, making the water shimmer. A deep foreboding was in the air and the fawn, sipping from the lake, could sense it. His ears perked up and he stood still while his eyes searched the area. Only the sounds of nature could be heard, crickets sang and an owl hooted, but the deer sensed that he was in danger and quickly darted away. With great speed, he sprinted gracefully, as if in mid air, toward safety.
A few feet from shore, the water abruptly parted and exposed a gigantic brown lump about 90-feet long. Water was trickling down its sides as it floated in the stillness of the night. At first glance it looked like an enormous log that had floated to the surface. After a couple seconds, it slowly moved toward shore. A howl of a wolf was heard in the distance but it was instantly cut off when a thunderous noise, like the roaring of an angry bull, pierced the night and was heard from the shores of Bear Lake and beyond. Immediately, the sounds of nature became silent and an eerie sense of foreboding remained in the atmosphere.
Just ten miles north of Bear Lake, Gilbert was tucking his little eight-year-old daughter into bed. With a voice of mystery and intensity, he told her of the Indian legend.
"And suddenly the water parted as the 90-foot Bear Lake Monster broke through the water, bellowing like a ferocious beast. His eyes were flaming red and his ears stuck out from the sides of his skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. It had small legs and a huge mouth, big enough to eat a man."
Kayla gasped as she put her hand up to her mouth and her eyes widened with excitement.
"Gilbert Roberts!" A reprimanding voice came from the doorway of Kayla's bedroom. "What on earth are you doing? Is this your idea of a bedtime story? You're going to frighten your daughter."
Gilbert turned toward the door and chuckled in a low deep voice as he looked at his wife. Melinda was a strikingly beautiful and shapely woman. She was unusually tall with eyes the color of shamrocks and dark auburn hair. She had an elegance about her that made Gilbert sit up and take notice. Even at the age of forty-two, she looked just as beautiful as the day he met her -- and was just as feisty.
Gilbert grinned as he defended himself, "Kayla asked me to tell her the story of the Bear Lake Monster, Melinda. I was only doing as requested."
Melinda stood with her hands on her hips. Narrowing her eyes, she asked, "Gilbert, do you think that a story like this will relax her enough to go to sleep?"
He tried hard to suppress another chuckle and answered, "Uhm - I never thought of that. But Melinda, she loves the legend. It's part of Bear Lake history."
"Legend, Papa?" Kayla's eyes were wide with curiosity. "What's a legend?"
Gilbert knelt down beside his daughter and tucked the covers up around her shoulders and answered, "Kayla darlin', it's a story that's been passed down for generations. Some people believe it to be a true part of history but others don't. The Natives, such as the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes, inhabited this valley. They used to fish and hunt here. When the settlers arrived in 1863, the Indians told them all about the Great Bear Lake Monster. It had captured and carried off two braves who were swimming. The monster was described as a serpent-like creature with legs about 18-inches long, and could crawl out of water, scurrying along on land. The Natives warned the pioneers to not go near the lake to swim. This legend still lives on today."
Melinda laughed with mock humor. She did not want her daughter to take this legend seriously. "But, Kayla, most legends aren't true. They've been handed down from one person to another. Stories like this have been exaggerated a great deal."
Gilbert looked up at Melinda and said soberly, "Oh, but there are those in this valley who have seen it."
"Hogwash! They're just having fun with us. It's just an Indian legend."
"Hey, when I questioned Pete about it, he acted quite offended that I'd question his word."
Gilbert smiled with amusement. "Yes, Pete. The one who works for me -- that Pete! And talking about Pete, I think that young whippersnapper likes you better than me. Every now and then he brings fresh hot muffins to you in the mornings and he never offers me one."
Melinda grinned. "He's such a sweet young man." Then she slowly shook her head. "No, he couldn't have been serious. He's just joking around." She paused. "What did he say?"
Gilbert stood up and grinned. "Oh, he was out duck hunting when he heard a huge splash in the water. So, he walked over to the lake and looked around. Low and behold, he saw the water swell up and part. He saw something that looked just like a huge brown tree that had surfaced. It was dusk and he couldn't see very well, so he walked closer to the shore and peered out toward the floating tree and it began to move. After a moment, he heard a loud splash. He figured it was the end of the creature's tail. It scared the wits out of him so he just high-tailed it out of there without looking back."
Melinda laughed, and between her giggles, she said, "He's just pulling your leg, Sweetheart. He's just spoofing you. You should know of all people that he likes kidding around. Besides, if he were serious, look at the facts. Pete did not see a tail but just supposed it was a tail that splashed and what had surfaced looked like a tree floating in the water. There's nothing unusual about his story."
Gilbert bent down to kiss his daughter goodnight and then took Melinda by the waist and led her into the living room. He took her hand in his, sat down on the sofa and pulled her down beside him.
Melinda looked into his eyes and smiled. "I just don't believe it, Gilbert."
He was having fun with her and he couldn't stop now. He was just getting started. He had plenty more evidence to give her. He had a sense of humor, a quick wit, and could captivate Melinda quite easily.
Gilbert was a rugged and muscular man with broad shoulders. He had piercing dark brown eyes, thick wavy brown hair, and stood six feet and two inches tall. He was a rancher and a dairyman, not to mention a loving husband and father. He was forty-six years of age and was known for his integrity.
"I just don't believe it," she continued on. "When Charles C. Rich, the founder of this settlement, heard about the monster and what people were saying, he began taking notes, writing all the interesting facts down. From what I heard, he put very little credibility in the reports. I believe it's because every time someone saw the monster, the person was generally alone."
Melinda smiled. She had him now. There was no way he could defend the monster with what she had just given him. She had won this debate and she knew it.
Gilbert was amused by her triumphant attitude and he smiled as he squeezed her hand lovingly. She had a good point. He put his arm around Melinda's shoulder and pulled her close to him. As she leaned her head against his shoulder, a smile played at the corners of his lips. Gilbert had some proof all ready to present to her.
"So, Melinda, you say that most people were generally alone. I'm glad that you mentioned that. Fortunately I've done my homework. Thomas Sleight and John Collings of Paris along with Allen and M.C. Davis of St. Charles were taking six girls home from a party in Fish Haven when they stopped off at the lake. They noticed some unusually large waves. A huge lump appeared in the water and it was swimming southward. It swam with incredible speed, about a mile a minute. As it passed by, they noticed four large lumps and six smaller ones that headed southward until they were out of sight."
She sat up straight and turned toward him and looked into his eyes. "It was probably a school of fish. Besides that, isn't it interesting that every time someone sees the monster come out of the water and show its gaping mouth and head, the person is alone? And if there is a group, then they only see the backs of the monster swimming off in the distance. It could be a log floating, being pushed around by the waves." She had him and she knew it, so why didn't he just give up. "You still haven't proved anything, Gilbert."
He could not convince her of the reality of the Bear Lake Monster, so he softly chuckled, amused by their little discussion. His chuckle was low and pleasant sounding, the kind that warmed a person's soul and the atmosphere around him. He enjoyed a challenge. And Melinda provided that challenge.
With a grin, he said, "You nonbeliever, you! I give up."
Gilbert knew that many in this beautiful little valley believed in the Bear Lake Monster. The Indian legend was real to them and no one could take that away from them. To most, this legend would live on forever. But to others, it had to be proven. The stories told of the monster always brought a little excitement to the valley; therefore, the legend would never die.
"Yup, you're definitely a nonbeliever, Melinda. I guess there's no way of convincing you unless you saw it in person, right?"
"Right," she said with a snicker.
As Gilbert looked into her large green eyes, he smiled as he noticed her self-satisfied attitude. He just wanted to kiss that smug look right off her face. In fact, that wasn't a bad idea after all, he thought to himself as he slid his hands around the small of her back. He pulled her close to him, and planted a firm kiss on her warm luscious lips. How he loved this strong-willed woman! She was his life and his world.
Gilbert once had considered himself a tough and rugged man, but Melinda had changed all that. She had softened him quite a bit. As he wrapped his arms around her and held her in an embrace, she melted into his arms, as usual.
When Melinda felt her husband's arms tighten around her, happiness overtook her. His kisses always had an effect on her, causing her mind to turn to mush. She felt loved and comfortable in his embrace.
They were considered middle-aged, but the love they had for one another was stronger than the day of their wedding. He had kept their love alive with his tender gestures and romantic touches.
Gilbert had an unconditional love for Melinda. He never looked for her faults, and if she had any, he over-looked them. To Gilbert, loving unconditionally was to accept one another at face value. Their marriage was not perfect by any means. Gilbert had his impatient and frustrating days. Melinda had her irritable days, also, and they had their disagreements and arguments just like any couple. They had to work at their marriage but they believed that respect and equality for one's partner were essential. The fact was they always made up before retiring to their bed in the evening.
When Gilbert pulled back, his eyes studied every inch of her as he said in a gentle tone, "You look mighty fine this evening, Melinda."
"Why, thank you, Gilbert."
She glowed at his sweet compliment and snuggled against him and relaxed, enjoying being together for once. She very seldom had some private time with him because of his long hours. It wasn't always that way. Lately Gilbert had been working extra hard, feeling pressured with deadlines. Evenings were the only time she had with him.
After a few moments of snuggling, she raised her head from his shoulder and said, "I've got an idea, how about if we go on a picnic with the children tomorrow?"
"Too busy and I've got a lot planned tomorrow. Sorry."
Melinda frowned. "You've been saying that for a long time, Sweetheart. Can't you just put off your work and spend some time with your family?"
"Melinda," he said softly. "You know I'd do anything for you but I've got commitments. The work is piling up and I've got to catch up first. Give me some time and then we'll go on a picnic. I promise."
"Okay, well how about next week?"
"We'll see." Gilbert lifted her chin and kissed her luscious lips, and then wrapped his arms around her. "Now how about some private time together?"
Melinda smiled at his invitation and cuddled up in her husband's arms. At first Gilbert whispered sweet nothings in her ear and she responded with a giggle but then all was quiet. Not a sound was heard. Kayla and her big brother, John, were sound asleep. The so-called Bear Lake Monster lay quiet at the bottom of the lake, not to be mentioned again until Gilbert could provide more evidence.
In the silence of the night, the only sounds that could be heard were the soft sounds of Gilbert's lips against his wife's face as he spread tender whispering kisses along her temple, her cheek, and down her neck, causing a tingle of joy to sweep over Melinda.
Then he pulled her against his chest and gave her a lingering kiss. Her lips were sweet and all he could think about was his wife and their love for one another.