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, as they are surrounded with 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 new born 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.
Wild animals generally hunt their prey and eat meat. A bear, being a wild animal, naturally has a taste for meat in spite of the fact that the majority of its diet consists of fruits. But the bear being tamed by the lady of the house, has never been introduced to the taste of meat. He shares the same food as the dogs of the house. He is treated the same as any other pet. He eats food that is given to them, such as bread, porridge, potato, cabbage and turnip. These are mild foods that make him less aggressive. The bear, being a fully grown animal, has a huge appetite, and eats more food. The cook, who has taken care of him for a long time, since he was a cub, knows his appetite and feeds him accordingly.
Bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat plants, fruits and meat. They relish the taste of fruits. They have a great skill for climbing trees. During autumn, apples grow more robust and is considered a good time to go apple picking. The manor has a grown apple orchard, and the bear being used to eating them, looks at them with eagerness. In his younger days, like a child who is enthusiastic about climbing trees, and longing for adventure, he had climbed trees and picked apples.
Bear picking apples
Bears may seem to be slow and clumsy with their activities since they have short and thick limbs and a heavy body. Their physique may trick one into thinking that they are slow. But one should not be fooled by this, since bears can move much more quickly than most people realize. They climb trees at a quicker pace, especially when it is for food. They climb apple trees than young schoolboys could.
Bear eating honey
As he grows up, he realizes that he is not supposed to climb the trees and eat fruits at his own will. He adapts to the life that humans want pets to follow. If he were in the forest, he would not have been controlled by anyone. Being in the wild is different from being around humans. He is made to learn that he is not supposed to climb trees and do anything that is against the human norms. Since he cannot climb trees, he expectantly waits for the apples to fall by itself to the ground, During autumn, the fruit falls on its own and he waits to eat it. Bears also love honey. They mostly climb trees to collect honey from beehives. He is punished for climbing trees by his owners in a cruel manner. He is beaten in a way that he bleeds from his nose and is chained to a post for two days.
A bear gets irritated when it is chained
If the bear behaves in a proper manner, he is not chained during the day. But he is chained at night to prevent him from doing things, when not under supervision. All pets, including dogs and cats, have an ill temper when they are chained. The author seems to bring in the concept of keeping animals chained as a miserable thing for them to experience. The bear craves for freedom to do things, and gets irritated when he is chained.
The bear did not like to be chained, and therefore got irritated when he was on chains. But during the daytime, he was never on chains, if he behaved. This was because he was a friendly bear and that he could never bring harm on anyone. But he was put on chains during the night time and also on Sundays. It was on Sundays that his mistress was absent. She visited her sister who was married. Her sister lived on the other side of the mountain lake, across the dense forest. It took around an hour to reach her house. The lady spent all Sunday afternoons with her sister.
Solitary house on the side of a lake
The lady did not consider it safe for the bear to travel through the forest. This was because she thought that he might be tempted to go back to his roots. In the wild, he is more prone to temptations. There is a possibility for him to see other wild animals or bears and get influenced by their actions. He might question as to why he is different from the rest of his pack. He eats apples, is controlled by people, is chained during nights whereas the bears in the wild are free, roam around the forest and eat what they find. This might impact the bear and he may feel like going to the wild. The bear had a bad experience with the travel, as he was scared of a sudden wind that blew across their boat and his sudden movement had upset it. He had to swim across the river with his mistress. This was also a reason to avoid taking him during the trips.
Bear in a boat
The bear has got used to the chaining after a few days, as every animal gets adapted to the existing conditions after a few days. He understands that the chaining is temporary and that he will soon be relieved from it. The mistress gives him gifts to pacify. He understands that she might give him an apple and a pat on his back if he is well behaved when she returns. He is tamed to the extent that a pat on his back makes him happy and accepting of the chain. He has totally come away from his aggressive roots and has taken the submissive role in the house. Although he is worried about the fact that he cannot follow her, the results make him agree to not accompanying her during the trip. He behaves like a loyal dog who is ready to please his master.
The lady chains the bear, just like she chains him on all the Sundays that she visits her sister. But this time, when she is halfway through the forest, she is stopped by a sudden rustling sound of the leaves. She hears the sound of the tree branch cracking behind her. She feels that she is being followed and turns around to see the bear following her. The tree branches were cracked by the heavy body of the bear when he was passing through. His fast pace created the noise that made her look back. In spite of looking clumsy when they walk, bears can move faster than a horse when they want to. He therefore reaches her, panting for breath as he had hurried to catch up with her. He also sniffs for her scent, like a dog who would follow his master at his heels.
A woman walking through forest
The lady gets irritated by his presence since she cannot take him along with her nor go back to the house to take him back. She did not have time to do so, as she was getting late for lunch. Above all, the thing that irritated her the most was the fact that he had disobeyed her orders, broken the chain free and followed her. To vent out this anger on him, she shouts at him for being disobedient and pokes with her umbrella to make him turn back and walk home. But after few minutes of being taken aback by the lady's reaction, he starts sniffing on her again. When she gets angry that he is wasting her time, she notices that he has missed the new collar that she had recently bought. She is even more blinded by her anger and fails to think more. She picks up her umbrella and hits him so hard as a punishment that it broke into two.
The bear who was probably not expecting this to happen was taken aback by the lady's actions. He opens his mouth wide in shock, as if he wanted to convey something to the lady, and shakes his head in disbelief. He then decides to quit and return as he did not want the lady to beat him any further. He stops now and then to look back at the lady, as he is still in shock and fear of what had happened and finally disappears into the dense forest.
After hitting the bear with her umbrella, for having followed her to the forest, the lady continues to visit her sister. On returning from the trip in the evening, she finds the bear at home. She thinks that he had walked back from the forest after the incident. She is still angry with him for ruining her day. She finds him sitting outside his kennel like he normally does. He looks as though he has a sorry face. The lady who still cannot bring herself to forgive him goes over to him and starts scolding him severely. As a punishment for his disobedience, she threatens to keep him chained for two days.
Bear with sorry face
Seeing the lady lose her temper, the cook comes to the bear's rescue. She could not understand as to why the lady is harsh with him. She loved and fed him, the same way she would do to her son. She could not stand the fact the lady would hurt and chain the bear simply for no reason at all. She was totally unaware of the incident that happened in the forest which made the situation even more confusing. She gets angry with the lady for shouting at him.
But when the cook opens her mouth and enquires as to why she is angry, the twist unfolds. The cook informs the lady that he had been on her watch the whole day, and that he had not moved from his usual place. In fact he had stayed there as a good bear, waiting for the lady expectantly. It is then that the readers understand that the lady's pet bear had been in the house all along, and she had mistook an actual bear from the wild, for her bear. If the lady had known this, she would have been scared and would not have reacted to it. She hit him with the umbrella thinking that it was her pet bear. This also goes on to show that human beings are courageous, but it is their thinking that sometimes stops them from being so.