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BEAR AND THE CHILDREN.
I will tell you a circumstance which occurred a year ago, in a country town in the south of Germany. The master of a Dancing-Bear was sitting in the tap-room of an inn, eating his supper; whilst the Bear, poor harmless beast! was tied up behind the wood-stack in the yard.
In the room up stairs three little children were playing about. Tramp, tramp! was suddenly heard
THE BEAR AND THE CHILDREN.
on the stairs;—who could it be? The door flew open, and enter—the Bear, the huge shaggy beast, with his clanking chain! Tired of standing so long in the yard alone, Bruin had at length found his way to the staircase. At first the little children were in a terrible fright at this unexpected visit, and each ran into a corner to hide himself. But the Bear found them all out, and put his muzzle, snuffing, up to them, but did not harm them in the least. He must be a big dog, thought the children; and they began to stroke him familiarly. The Bear stretched himself out at his full length upon the floor, and the youngest boy rolled over him, and nestled his curly head in the shaggy black fur of the beast. Then the eldest boy went and fetched his drum, and thumped away on it with might and main; whereupon the Bear stood erect upon his hind legs, and began to dance. What glorions fun! Each boy shouldered his musket; the Bear must of course have one too—and he held it tight and firm, like any soldier. There's a comrade for you, my lads! and away they marched-one, two-one, two!
The door suddenly opened, and the children's mother entered. You should have seen her-speechless with terror, her cheeks white as a sheet, and her eyes fixed with horror. But the youngest boy nodded with a look of intense delight, and cried, “Mamma, we are only playing at soldier's!”
At that moment the master of the Bear appeared.