He had never tasted meat; he ate the same food as the dogs and often out of the same plate—bread, porridge, potato, cabbage, turnip. He had a fine appetite, and his friend, the cook, saw to it that he got his fill. Bears are vegetarians if they have a chance, and fruit is what they like best. In the autumn he used to sit and look with wistful eyes at the ripening apples in the orchard, and in his young days he had been sometimes unable to resist the temptation to climb the tree and help himself to a handful of them. Bears look clumsy and slow in their movements, but try a bear with an apple tree and you will soon find out that he can easily beat any school boy at that game. Now he had learnt that it was against the law, but he kept his small eyes wide open for any apples that fell to the ground. There had also been some difficulties about the beehives; he had been punished for this by being put on the chain for two days with a bleeding nose and he had never done it again. Otherwise he was never put on the chain except for the night and quite rightly so, for a bear, like a dog, is apt to get somewhat ill-tempered if kept on the chain, and no wonder.
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 apple
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, faster than young schoolboys could.
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 chained to a post for two days.
Bear eating honey
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.
A irritated bear when chained
Meanings of difficult words from the paragraph:
|Porridge||Breakfast dish with cereals and milk|
|Autumn||One of the four seasons, Transition from summer to winter|
|Wistful||Feeling sad for not getting what you want|
|Temptation||A thing that attracts you to do something wrong or silly|
|Clumsy||Careless and slow|
|Orchard||A piece of land on which fruit trees are grown|
|Beehives||A type of box that people use for keeping bees in, The place where bees make honey|
|Omnivores||An animal that eats both plant and animal matter|
|Supervision||Overseeing or inspecting something|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Supplementary. 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.