A Bicycle of Cathay (Chapter 8, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 8

Mrs. Chester hurried into the house, and in company with the
stable-man I crossed the yard towards the bear.

"You are sure he is gentle?" said I.

"Mild as milk!" said the man. "I was a-playin' with him last night.
He'll let you do anything with him! If you box his ears, he'll lay
over flat down on his side!"

When we were within a few feet of the bear he sat upright, dangled his
fore paws in front of him, and, with his head on one side, he partly
opened his mouth and lolled out his tongue. "I guess he's beggin' for
his breakfust," said John.

"Can't you get him something to eat?" I asked. "He ought to be fed, to
begin with."

The man went back to the kitchen, and I walked slowly around the bear,
looking at the chain and the post, and trying to see what sort of a
collar was almost hidden under his shaggy hair. Apparently he seemed
securely attached, and then--as he was at the end of his chain--I went
up to him and gently patted one paw. He did not object to this, and
turning his head he let his tongue loll out on the other side, fixing
his little black eyes upon me with much earnestness. When the man came
with the pan of scraps from the kitchen I took it from him and placed
it on the ground in front of the bear. Instantly the animal dropped to
his feet and began to eat with earnest rapidity.

"I wonder how much he'd take in for one meal," said John, "if you'd
give him all he wanted? I guess that Dago never let him have any
more'n he could help."

As the bear was licking the tin pan I stood and looked at him. "I
wonder if he would be tame with strangers?" said I. "Do you suppose we
could take him away from this post if we wanted to?"

"Oh yes," said John. "I wouldn't be afraid to take him anywheres, only
there isn't any place to take him to." He then stepped quite close to
the bear. "Hey, horsey!" said he. "Hey, old horsey! Good old horsey!"

"Is that his name?" I asked.

"That's what the Dago called him," said John. "Hey, horsey! Good
horsey!" And he stooped and unfastened the chain from the post.

I imagined that the Italian had called the bear "Orso," perhaps with
some diminutive, but I did not care to discuss this. I was very much
interested to see what the man was going to do. With the end of the
chain in his hand, John now stepped in front of the bear and said,
"Come along, horsey!" and, to my surprise, the bear began to shamble
after him as quietly as if he had been following his old master.
"See!" cried John. "He'll go anywheres I choose to take him!" and he
began to lead him about the yard.

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