THERE was once a lady who lived in an old manor-house on the border of a big forest. This lady had a pet bear she was very fond of. It had been found in the forest, half dead of hunger, so small and helpless that it had to be brought up on the bottle by the lady and the old cook. This was several years ago and now it had grown up to a big bear, so big and strong that he could have slain a cow and carried it away between his two paws if he had wanted to. But he did not want to; he was a most amiable bear who did not dream of harming anybody, man or beast. He used to sit outside his kennel and look with his small intelligent eyes most amicably at the cattle grazing in the field near by. The three shaggy mountain ponies in the stable knew him well and did not mind in the least when he shuffled into the stable with his mistress. The children used to ride on his back and had more than once been found asleep in his kennel between his two paws. The three dogs loved to play all sorts of games with him, pull his ears and his stump of a tail and tease him in every way, but he did not mind it in the least.
The story introduces a lady who lives in a manor house. A manor house is a large country house with lands. The house is located on the border of a forest. Usually, manor houses are isolated from other human habitats, surrounded by barren lands or farms. Most manor houses were owned by rich people. The manor house is old, indicating there were people living in it for years together. One fine day, the lady and her old cook finds a tiny bear cub in the forest. When they first came across the cub, it was so tiny. It was helpless since it was left alone in the forest, without food or protection. It was half dead of hunger, indicating that it was a newborn stranded in the forest without food, for days together. If the lady had not found the bear, it would have possibly died out of hunger. The cub was so feeble and tiny that it had to be carried in a bottle jar, to give it warmth and protect it from danger.
The lady keeps the bear as her pet. The lady who lives in a big house all by herself, except for the company of her cook, few neighbours and animals, gives the bear a new life, as she loves him and takes care of him. Many years later, the feeble little cub grows into a fine sturdy bear. Bears grow into a much bigger size, as years pass. The bear's growth is compared to a sturdy wild animal that could kill a whole cow with its bare hands, and carry its body's weight between its paws. But the huge difference between other bears that live in the wild, and this bear, was the fact that he did not choose to kill or inflict harm on other animals. Instead, he was a happy bear who liked to play with them. He was friendly to both men and animals.
A fully grown bear
The bear behaved the same way any pet animal would act. It looked for the attention and love from the owners, and wanted to play with children and other animals. Generally, when there is a wild animal around, other animals that are domesticated get sacred, as there is a chance that they become prey to it. But in the manor house, things were different as the bear chose to watch them with his small interesting eyes, rather than hunting them down. He was a keen observer of his surroundings. He had a kennel for himself, just like pet dogs. He sat outside his kennel and watched the cows grazing the fields calmly. When the lady walked into the horse stable, rather than running helter-skelter at the sight of the bear, the horses very casually went on with their work, as they were used to his presence.
Horses in a stable
The children around the house play with the bear, as he is friendly to them. They even sleep in his kennel sometimes, ride on his fluffy back. They do not feel intimidated by his presence at all, and sleep in between his paws. The bear does not hurt them and treats them like his friends. Usually when bears are irritated or teased, they become wild. But the bear allows the three dogs in the house to pull his ears and tail and tease him in every way possible. He does not get irritated nor does he get angry.
The incidents tell us how conditioning is very important at a tender age. The bear was brought up by the lady in a way a normal pet animal would be brought up. He grew up as a tamed animal, and therefore acts accordingly.
Meanings of difficult words from the paragraph:
|Manor-house||large country house with lands|
|Paws||The hands and feet of an animal|
|Kennel||The house of a pet, especially a dog|
|Stump of a tail||Short thick tail|
|Barren||Not productive or fertile|
|Helter-Skelter||Running in confusion|
|Domesticated||Adapted to home environment|
Frightened or scared
|Conditioning||The upbringing of a person|
|Tender||Young and soft|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Honeysuckle. The Bear Story (pp.52-57). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.