Her mother said that Laura could come with her while she milked their cow, Sukey. They got all their fresh milk from the cow. Laura could carry the lantern that would give them a little light.
Her mother went up to the gate and pushed against it to open it. But it did not open very far, because Sukey was standing against it. Her mother said, “Sukey, move over!”
She reached across the gate and slapped Sukey's shoulder. In the weak lantern light Laura saw long, black fur and two little eyes. Sukey was a cow and had thin, short, brown fur. Sukey also had large, gentle eyes. Her mother said, “Laura, walk back to the house.”
So Laura turned around and began to walk toward the house. Her mother came behind her. When they had gone part way, her mother picked her up off the ground, lantern and all, and carried her into the house. Then she slammed (closed hard) the door. Laura said, “Mother, was it a bear?”
"Yes, Laura," her mother said. "It was a bear."
Laura began to cry. She hung on to her mother and sobbed, “Oh, will he eat Sukey?”
“No,” her mother said, hugging her. “Sukey, our cow, is safe in the barn. Think, Laura - all those big, thick wooden barn walls. And the door is heavy and solid, your father made it thick to keep bears out. No, the bear cannot get in and eat Sukey.”
Laura felt better then. “But the bear could have hurt us, couldn't he?” she asked.
“He didn't hurt us,” her mother said. “You were a good girl, Laura, to do exactly as I told you and to do it quickly, without asking why. Laura, you need to know what to do if you meet a bear. First keep away from the bear. Bears will avoid you and not be violent unless they are protecting cubs (baby bears) or food. Walking between a mother bear and her babies can easily be deadly. Walk, do not run, away from a bear. Bears and other meat-eating animals understand that food runs away and that they need to fight animals that run towards them. Dangerous, but non-threatening, animals walk away.”
Her mother was shaking and she began to laugh a little. “To think,” she said, “I've slapped a bear!”